Google launched its Stadia gaming service yesterday (November 19), allowing you to stream a variety of games (as long as you’ve got a beefy internet connection). The company is understandably conducting a big push to get people to try out the service, and it’s gone so far as to advertise Stadia on Google Search.
Several writers here at Android Authority spotted a banner for Stadia on the Google Search homepage (Google.com, Google.de or variations thereof) and when opening a new tab in Chrome. “Gaming redefined. Get Stadia exclusively on the Google Store,” reads the banner. Check it out in the featured image at the top of the page.
Clicking the banner takes users to the Stadia product page on the Google Store, allowing you to buy the Stadia Premiere Edition for $129.
The banner only seems to show up in Stadia launch markets (as you’d expect), although we weren’t able to see it in Spain or the UK (which are launch countries). We were however able to use VPNs or web proxies to trigger the banner in unsupported countries.
It certainly raises questions surrounding Google using its dominant position in the search space to push other products. On the one hand, it’s Google’s search engine and it already pushes the likes of Gmail and other Google services on this page. Then again, the search engine’s dominance means it gains an arguably unfair advantage over other companies by punting its own services.
It’s also worth reiterating that the banner pops up when you open a new tab on Chrome. So even if you’re not actively visiting the Google Search homepage, you’re still likely to see it by simply using your web browser.
The EU previously fined Google roughly $5 billion for abusing its position in the Android space to favor its own apps and services. This doesn’t seem to be on the same level at first glance, but it’s definitely a case of using your dominant service to favor your own app.
Still, despite the barebones launch thus far and concerns over Google’s commitment to the platform, you can’t accuse Google of letting Stadia go unnoticed.