A new report from Business Insider has highlighted some continuing changes for Google's cloud gaming service Stadia, and it doesn't exactly sound good - but it's also something that was mostly already announced. It's doing the rounds right now across various other outlets of course, as Stadia has never exactly been popular.
Back in November 2021, I wrote an article titled "Two years on, Stadia seems to have no direction left" and it doesn't sound like it's going to get any better.
We already knew that Google had shut down its internal game development studios for Stadia, with their focus to stick with third-party releases. That was seen as quite a big blow to Stadia when it was announced in Early 2021, and even then they said clearly the Stadia tech would continue on "for industry partners".
The article mentions "Google Stream" is now the new name for the Stadia tech Google provide to other companies, and the Stadia consumer platform (the store) has been "deprioritized within Google, insiders said, with a reduced interest in negotiating blockbuster third-party titles" so over time it's likely to see less titles release.
It's actually a huge shame, as the Stadia tech is actually really good and it is still by far the easiest and most fluid cloud gaming service I've ever personally used. I found Xbox Cloud to have poor quality overall and GeForce NOW was just a mess of launchers. Stadia sadly has been badly managed from the get-go, with expectations inside Google that were very clearly just way too high.
They also clearly got the revenue model completely wrong. I don't think it would have entirely saved it, but it would have easily been far more popular if they doubled-down on the subscription. Not everyone is Microsoft though and can afford to do something like Game Pass but this is Google - they absolutely could have. It was asking a lot to get people to buy full-price (sometimes more expensive too) digital games, that you only have for streaming and no local copy at all — with an optional subscription that took them forever to properly explain.
Meanwhile, the Stadia community managers have jumped in to try and calm things down on Twitter. In a thread they said:
If you hear one thing, hear this: The Stadia team is working really hard on a great future for Stadia and cloud gaming.
We hope you agree, and we know the proof is in the playing.
We’re particularly proud to be offering 50 games to Pro members in February, with more than 100 titles to join Stadia in 2022 and plenty of Free Play Days for everyone to enjoy.
There’s also more feature goodness coming to Stadia too - stuff we can’t talk about just yet, but we promise to share when we can.
Have a great weekend, Stadians.