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BT becomes first Euro distribution partner for Google Stadia gaming platform

In a move intended to add UK impetus to a surprisingly low-key beginning for the product, BT and Google have announced a strategic collaboration for the Stadia cloud gaming platform.

Stadia is designed to enable users to play leading video games across virtually any type of screen, whether TV, laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile phone. The collaboration will see BT become the first European distribution partner for Stadia.

In addition to expanding UK reach, BT and Google will work together on initiatives designed to build its awareness, access and availability. The two companies claim that the new BT Superfast Fibre Stadia Gaming Plans will push the limits of cloud gaming and allow customers to take full advantage of the potential of the gaming platform.

The offer will be based on the BT Superfast Broadband 2 service, which is available in more than 80% of the UK and will see the operator launch a Google Stadia offer whereby customers who take out either BT’s Superfast Fibre 2, Ultrafast Fibre 100 or Ultrafast Fibre 250 package can choose to receive a free Google Stadia Premiere Edition.

The Stadia Premiere Edition includes a Stadia controller, Chromecast Ultra and three months access to Stadia Pro, which offers the ability to play in up to 4K/60FPS with HDR and 5.1 surround sound, as well as claim games, and discounts on separate purchases.

“We continually look to provide our customers with the most exciting products and experiences. By partnering with Google on Stadia, we’re able to help them push the limits of gaming,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division. “Our superfast home broadband service is the perfect accompaniment for those wanting to make the most from this innovative streaming gaming platform.”

Michiel van Eldik, Google general manager and vice-president of devices and services for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said: “We’re excited to continue our cross-product partnership with BT in the UK to further drive the cloud gaming industry forward. BT has an established track record of leading the industry in delivering next-generation services and products to their customers.

“Through today’s announcement, we are able to make the best gaming content even more accessible, and to continue to change the way people access, play and enjoy their favourite games.”

The move follows BT’s recent announcement that it has signed a new multi-year contract with major esports team Excel Esports, to become its exclusive lead partner and comes as full fibre broadband roll-out across the UK gains momentum.

BT has committed huge investment into fibre roll-out, as seen in its latest financial results, and has been one of the country’s leaders persuading the UK government to move away from ageing copper networks.

Assessing the move, analysts have noted that telecoms providers in recent years have been partnering with video services to help attract and retain customers, and bundling cloud gaming into mobile and broadband packages is the next logical step for the industry.  

“We are likely to see a rush of partnership announcements between telecoms providers, gaming and eSports companies in the near future,” said Lior Friedman, vice-president of global partnerships and strategy at Amdocs Media.

“To differentiate these services, we can expect them to bundle gaming into new and innovative models. For example, they could create premium connectivity packages for serious gamers that would guarantee ultra-high bandwidth and low-latency connectivity. Gaming services are also likely to be bundled up with 5G mobile and home broadband packages.

“This will enable high-end gaming experiences on phones, similar to those you would expect to enjoy on a TV screen. The telecoms industry will play a vital role in bringing cloud and online gaming services into the hands of consumers. This will also prove to be a huge opportunity for telecoms providers to add value to their core services.”

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