Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Google Stadia closes today: these are the lessons we learn from its failure

Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service, has officially closed after three years since its launch. Those who until now had the subscription active will no longer be able to access the platform to play the titles that were available. It’s more: the official website de Stadia now only displays a message confirming the shutdown and offering users the ability to connect their controller via Bluetooth to other devices.

The closure of Stadia, however, was officially announced last September, after Google made some changes that only confirmed its lack of success. Among them, the end of video game development through its own studio or the relocation of more than 100 developers to other areas of the company. But, Why has Stadia failed despite the rise of streaming services?

Stadia, let’s remember, was announced in June 2019 as a cloud gaming platform similar to Nvidia’s Xbox Cloud Gaming or Geforce Now. The goal was to be able to play from any device, anywhere and only through a subscription of about 10 euros per month. Stadia also had other additional plans, such as a free one that allowed users to buy specific games to create their own catalog.

A good initial reception

The platform became available in November of that same year with features that placed it ahead of other similar services. Between them, the possibility of playing in 4K with up to 60 FPS. The initial reception from users, even before Stadia was available, was not bad. In fact, Google confirmed that it exhausted the Pack ‘Stadia Founder’s Edition’which included the Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra and other benefits, such as the ability to share Stadia with friends.

The problems, however, started when the service began to be operational for users. The catalog of games available through the subscription was very small at the beginning and the most attractive titles had to be purchased individually at a price similar to what can be achieved in physical format, even if the subscriber had the ‘Stadia Pro’ plan, which, yes, included some free games, such as Destiny 2: The Collection.

Stadia did not offer anything differential compared to other platforms, not even compared to traditional consoles

Google Stadia Controller

Although the quality of the service was extremely good, the fact of offering a more traditional distribution system did not seem to convince users. Furthermore, Google did not offer any other attraction compared to other similar platforms or, even, compared to physical consoles, such as Xbox or PlayStation, where it is also possible to play without having to be connected to the network.

The number of subscribers seemed to be considerably lower than what Google expected. Months later, and despite the company’s promises of new features, such as titles developed by the company itself, the number of users seemed to continue without increasing.

In February 2021, Google decided to end the development of its own video games and closed its studio. Jade Raymond, who was in charge of game design for the Google platform, left the company. Months later, the company stopped prioritizing the development of new features for its service and, finally, they announced the closure.

The failure of Stadia, therefore, is not in the malfunction of the platform, but in the bad strategy on the part of Google. Offering an alternative to other similar services or even to traditional consoles, without having advantages in return, does not seem to have been a good option.

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