Google Stadia cloud gaming service – an unmitigated disaster?

Photo by yacobchuk

In addition to issuing refunds and apologising to its users (many of whom feel duped), Google should also realise that its power in search and Android has not crossed over into games and that it should be nice to developers.

There is little doubt that its Stadia cloud gaming service is an unmitigated disaster and given the current opportunity with millions potentially being stuck at home, Google has missed an open goal.

The main problem is that Google massively hyped its service and when it launched it fell far short of the expectations that it set.

In this regard, Nvidia and Microsoft have been far smarter as they set expectations far lower and have been able to meet those expectations.

To be fair to Stadia, when it works, it works very well but the problem is that the service is so hit and miss that it has attracted nothing but awful reviews.

This is the last thing that it needs, and I am certain that this will have ensured that gamers have stayed away sticking instead to their PCs and consoles.

The other key element to a gaming offering is content and here Stadia also looks like it is in real trouble.

While there are some games from the big studios available, there are very few, if any from independent studios and it is these that can really bolster a catalogue and draw users in. Research conducted by Business Insider has found that developers have very little interest in making their games available on Stadia.

This is because:

  • First, incentive: Independent developers said that they had been approached by Google to make their games available, but that Google had offered no incentive for them to back its platform.
  • This sounds exactly like Google’s attitude when it comes to negotiating with OEMs for Android Automotive, its Android-based offering for embedded software in the vehicle’s infotainment unit.
  • Many OEMs report that Google’s negotiating terms fall along similar lines which are: “here are the terms and if you don’t like them, then you are not ready for Google”.
  • Any OEM in its right mind will not like these terms and increasingly, they are abandoning Google, despite having signed up.
  • This position is born from Google’s complete dominance of Android handsets and search where it has reduced the Android handset makers into commodity box shifters.
  • It looks to me like this attitude has also spilt over into gaming, but this is backfiring badly because, in gaming, Google has no power.
  • The result is that the developers have decided that they are indeed “not ready for Google” and that it won’t hurt them that much by staying that way.
  • Second, longevity: Google has a track record of suddenly dropping projects that are not working and leaving its users and partners in the lurch.
  • Given the awful launch of Stadia, it seems that confidence in its longevity is pretty low giving developers yet another reason not to get involved.

The net result is that Google Stadia is in real trouble.

Google has plenty of money to invest and if it is really serious about this offering it needs to put its money where its mouth is.

This would involve refunding everyone’s money, offering extended free trials for a long period of time as well as offering developers much greater incentives.

Google should also eat a large piece of humble pie and apologize to its users and ask them to become beta testers while it gets its house in order.

Failure to do something of this order is likely to lead to Stadia failing to get any traction and ceding the market to Nvidia, Microsoft and Sony.

Given the size of the gaming market and Google’s giant cash balance, this would be a worthwhile investment to make.

Google can still turn this around, but I remain doubtful whether Google is willing to eat the humble pie required.

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