Google made it’s best attempt to rock the gaming world to the core when it announced it would be making it’s own entry into gaming earlier in the year. Through multiple shows that were unveiled over the last nine months, consumers were given a run down on all the information of this attempted “fourth pillar” of gaming. Could Google stand alongside Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft?
The system launched recently and well...the jury’s still out. However, sales don’t seem to be anywhere near what they should be, which has left many to wonder what they could possibly have been thinking? While we’re no experts, here’s ten things that have made no sense about the Google Stadia.
10 LAUNCH LIBRARY
Stadia's initial launch line-up is something. Destiny 2, Tomb Raider, Just Dance 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Samurai Shodown, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. That's not to dunk on Tomb Raider, it's meant to point out how sparse the opening line-up was. And what's worse? Who hasn't already played these games? And for those who haven't, who's interested in playing them a year later at or near full retail price?
9 NO SINGLE AUDIENCE
The ultimate question when it comes to Google Stadia. Who is it for? It makes such a big deal about being for everyone, but doesn't seem to make one concerted effort towards being for anyone in particular. The casual audience won't see anything new to pique their interest and make them move. The core audience knows they're losing ownership and will likely have to deal with latency problems. In trying to be for everyone, it's possible this isn't for anyone.
8 NO FIRST PARTY
If nothing else, Google is an incredibly bold company. Who else could decide they're releasing a new console, but the games will come later? Sure, Google has a line-up of games available to play...but it's all stuff from third-party developers, meaning it's multi-platform.
They've got a few indie games locked up as exclusives, but those don't push people to invest in consoles at large. Where's the big budget Stadia only game? Well, according to Google VP Jade Raymond, probably a few YEARS away. That's about as bold as it gets: buy our system now, we'll get you stuff for it in a few years.
As much as core gamers like to tout the importance of single-player, multiplayer is where all the money is. There's a nearly infinite amount of content to be given from maps/stages, characters, costumes, and weapon customization. On the consumer end, they enjoy playing with friends and mastering a game over months and years. Stadia's biggest issue is that people love multiplayer, but their system isn't equipped to deal with it because they're streaming the data hundreds or even thousands of miles out. Latency is going to be an issue even for people who play half-seriously.
6 CHARGING FULL PRICE
Who thought this was a good idea? When the Stadia was first shown off early in the year, the impression everyone got was it was going to be like PlayStation Now or Xbox GamePass, where you paid a monthly fee and got access to a library of games. Instead, it turns out their plan is to charge the same as retail stores, for games people can't own, on a system that doesn't exist. Genius.
5 WAITING TO LAUNCH OLD GAMES
So we've established Stadia's opening salvo of games weren't that strong. But what's worse is how mysteriously they were suddenly ready to Launch another fourteen games just a short bit after Microsoft talked more about their own cloud gaming service, xCloud. Like...you needed xCloud as impetus to tell everyone Attack on Titan 2 and Final Fantasy XV were playable? What's the point in waiting when none of these games are part of a service and people have to buy them all separately anyway?
4 WHAT ABOUT DATA CAPS?
This is a bit of big brained thinking admittedly, but give us a second. Google as a company is perhaps the largest, most expansive company in the world. They've got their fingers in pretty much every pie in the tech world. The Stadia, being all streaming, is going to demand huge amounts of data, specifically for power gamers who can go for hours at a time.
Why didn't Google at least try to pair this up with Google Fiber? Data caps are going to be a huge problem for anyone who uses this seriously, and offering Fiber alongside Stadia with a discount for both seems like a solution for at least the larger areas.
3 WHY GO STRAIGHT TO A SEPARATE SERVICE
Stadia was so quick to jump head first into the pool. They could've chosen to partner up with PS4 or Xbox One first, establishing the usefulness of their service over months and even years. Streaming games at vastly reduced costs or even streaming older games for a small monthly fee. This would've cleared up the biggest concern for people--that Google's going to abandon the service within a year as they have others. But no, they went right for the full console, positioning themselves as a competitor to consoles fans have played for years, setting them at odds with loyal core gamers.
2 THE REVEAL STRATEGY
This was perhaps one of the weirdest reveal strategies ever. While Google Stadia's hype has evaporated with its release, there was certainly interest at the start. But the first reveal seemed to be talking more to developers. The second seemed to show only old games. By the time we got to the third, was anyone even paying attention? Presumably this was meant to keep them in the news cycle and the public eye, but it really just cemented the Stadia as a thing people could simply write off without worrying about missing out on anything.
1 THE TIMING
Perhaps the most baffling part of the Google Stadia is the timing of its release. It's a year before the new consoles come out, which makes it all the more hilarious when they talked about how the Stadia is more powerful than the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro combined. Considering it's like a million servers running separate instances and backed by the richest company in the world, sure that makes sense? But what happens when Microsoft and Sony launch their new consoles? They'll probably still have the more powerful system, but it won't be by enough to matter anymore, unless they decide to reveal a year later that Stadia is even MORE powerful. But why go for such "this isn't even my final form" logic?