Distributing software to end users isn't a core purpose of Google Code; the download functionality (which could be, and often was, used for that purpose) wasn't, as I understand it, provided for that purpose, but provided mostly as an alternative to using source control tools to get source code bundles.
It's possible that's what they were thinking (and maybe even said) but it sure doesn't come out from the design of the site, which I've always thought has been well-geared toward the end users. There's a consistent landing page with consistent links to the downloads, documentation, and news groups. Of the "hey, stick your OSS projects here!" sites, Google Code has been the one that I most like to use as an end user.