Google Stadia finally had its big launch yesterday after many months of hype-building. The video game streaming service debuted in 14 countries with over 20 launch titles to its name. Initially, Google had planned to go ahead with only half of those games on launch but the community backlash forced the company into adding more games to the service. However, despite some face-saving on the games front, things didn’t quite start off so well for Google Stadia.
Stadia is facing stern competition from the likes of Project xCloud and PlayStation Now. Google has managed to somewhat elevate Stadia’s position though with the full release while its main rival in Project xCloud is still in testing phase. According to Google, combined with its launch titles, this should have given enough of an edge to Stadia over others.
In reality though, Stadia has had an extremely underwhelming start to its life. A few sources claimed that the pre-orders for the service were far below Google’s expectations. Some of the industry experts are even going so far as to dub Stadia a ‘monumental flop’. Things aren’t looking on the up for the service in the future either as amidst all this chaos, some developers have reportedly decided to back out of development for the platform.
Why are developers backing out of Google Stadia?
There is absolutely no doubt that video game streaming is the eventual future that we are all heading towards. However, there are a bunch of ways companies are deciding to implement that. When Google announced that users on Stadia would have to buy games at full price rather than a Netflix-styled subscription model with access to all games, most folks weren’t very pleased about it.
Honestly, this was always destined to be a recipe for disaster for Google because the whole point of having a streaming service was to move away from full-priced hardware and games. When you look at what others are doing with streaming, Google really is a fish out of water.
For example, Microsoft has already tested the subscription model with Xbox Game Pass and that has been one of the most well-received gaming services of this generation. All that Microsoft has to do for game streaming now is to port its already fleshed out Game Pass library over to xCloud.
In addition to that, Google has tried to jump the gun with Stadia. While others are still testing out their streaming services and finding solutions to make it more viable, Google has just straight up launched its service. This has resulted in a lot of technical issues at launch, which, in hindsight, were to be expected. However, things are not only limited to latency issues.
Google Stadia also gobbles up data like there’s no tomorrow. According to early reports, the game streaming services manages to consume over 10 Gigabytes of data every single hour. The data consumption rate is too high for most people with data caps, let alone those on mobile data.
Furthermore, most games on Stadia don’t even run at the highest settings on 1080p. Destiny 2, for example, only runs on medium settings at 1080p. Google isn’t even fully utilizing the promised hardware capabilities yet.
All of this is adding up to a lot of negative press for the company and developers aren’t too keen on putting their games on the service now either. The whole situation is actually pretty similar to what happened with the Ouya. However, if there is any company in the world that can correct Stadia’s course from this mess, it is Google.
How can Google turn this around?
Google has dumped a ton of resources into the development and marketing for Stadia. The company also knows that while not everyone is ready for the streaming service yet, video game streaming is the eventual future for all of us. With Stadia, Google has already laid the foundations for what could be a very solid game streaming service. Yes, the video game library isn’t as impressive as most people would have hoped for but it still has a lot of AAA games on it.
Firstly, Google needs to rethink its strategy with Stadia. While the prospect of having full-priced games on a streaming service is more attractive for game developers, it is not necessarily a pro-consumer choice. Google doesn’t need to have a AAA only library.
Others like Microsoft have managed to find a decent middle ground with games of all sizes on their services. If Google reverts to a model like the Game Pass, the barriers to entry for Stadia would be infinitely reduced and thus, the service will flourish.
The games that Stadia currently has aren’t exactly something to get excited about. However, the company has some promising releases for Stadia in the pipeline like Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk 2077. In addition to that, Google’s own game studio, headed by the industry veteran Jade Raymond is also currently in the process of developing a game.
Google needs to make sure that Stadia keeps getting a steady stream of games over the next few months to stop the momentum from dying off before the big releases.
The data consumption rate for Stadia is off the charts while also not really running games at their full graphical capabilities. Google seriously needs to address that because unless you have an unlimited fiber connection, there is absolutely no way that Stadia is viable for you.
Google really need to find a solution around data caps by trying to reduce the data consumed by Stadia and also partnering up with different ISPs. In addition to that, just providing the superior experience as compared to a console would be crucial in the long run.
In any case, Google has laid a very solid foundation for Stadia and while things may not seem very positive for it right now, the streaming service has a lot of potential to turn into a powerhouse. Additionally, Google’s success would only mean better competition for the streaming industry.
With xCloud and PlayStation Now also trying to enter the game streaming space, good competition will only improve the quality of these services for the consumer.
Do you think that Google Stadia has the potential to become the mainstream gaming service for the masses or will it wither away like those that came before it? Let us know down in the comments below!