A hot potato: Remember when Google introduced Stadia back in 2019, and there was talk of this revolutionary service making gaming PCs and consoles obsolete? Things haven’t exactly turned out that way. But a company executive insists Stadia is far from struggling. In fact, it’s “alive and well.”
There was plenty of hype surrounding Stadia when it arrived. Google claimed that its product, more powerful than the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro combined, would finally be the game streaming service that consumers would opt for over a PC or console. Google VP Madj Bakar said Stadia could be more responsive than a PC in two years. It’s not, obviously.
Stadia launched to mixed reviews and faced criticism over its failure to offer true or, in some cases, any 4K performance, which led to a lawsuit. It also had to deal with overheating Chromecast Ultra dongles, a lack of updates, and plenty of other issues, resulting in some devs complaining that Google overpromised with Stadia. But the biggest hit came in February when Google closed down its first-party Stadia game studio, and things appeared even bleaker when product head John Justice left the company earlier this month.
Given everything that’s happened, Stadia’s future is looking far from rosy, but developer marketing lead Nate Ahearn believes otherwise. “We’re well on our way to over 100 new games launching on Stadia in 2021, and we’re continuing to make Stadia a great place to play games on devices you already own,” he told Gamesindustry.biz.
“I’d tell any non-believers to take notice of how we’re continuing to put our words into action, as we grow the Stadia Makers program and partner with AAA studios like Capcom, EA, Square Enix, Ubisoft and others.”
What’s interesting is that Google has never revealed how many people use Stadia. When it closed the game studio earlier this year, unnamed sources claimed there were “hundreds of thousands” fewer controllers sold and “monthly active users” logging on than Google had expected.
Game streaming services have been around for years without threatening traditional platforms. Google still believes that Stadia needs more time before the technology and audience size make it a viable option. But despite a global chip shortage that should be pushing hardware-starved gamers to Stadia, it remains the niche alternative—even Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney thinks it’s struggling.
Sweeney: “My understanding is that after a public launch, Google Stadia has been very significantly scaled back.”
— Adi Robertson (@thedextriarchy) May 4, 2021