Google recently announced that it would refocus its Stadia cloud gaming platform to cater to clients like Bungie, Peloton, and Capcom. The company has refuted claims that it’s planning to shutter Stadia, but rumors indicate that the service has lagged behind Google’s expectations.
What went wrong with Google Stadia, and what’s next for the ambitious cloud gaming platform?
Google launched Stadia in late 2019 as an alternative to traditional console and PC gaming. The platform allows users to play games without gaming hardware. Stadia users can stream games through a web browser or over a Chromecast device. However, unlike comparable streaming platforms, Stadia requires users to purchase games for full MSRP before accessing them via cloud servers.
This business model has proven unpopular with gamers. Some outlets have questioned who Stadia is for. Hardcore gamers who have fast enough internet to stream modern-day, AAA video games usually purchase home consoles or gaming PCs. More casual gamers who don’t want to purchase gaming hardware usually play games through their web browsers or on their phones and don’t want to pay full price for video games that run poorly on their internet.
Bungie’s popular online shooting game, Destiny, enjoys consistently high player numbers on Stadia. Several commentators have pointed out that Destiny is free to play, making it one of the most visually appealing games on Stadia’s platform that doesn’t require a buy-in. Had Stadia launched with a subscription model and allowed players to sample games from its library, it would have likely drawn larger support from gamers.
Google is doubling down on what worked with Stadia’s business model, focusing on its partnership with companies like Bungie and Capcom.
“Current and former employees said the priority was now on proof-of-concept work for Google Stream and securing white-label deals. One estimated about 20% of the focus was on the consumer platform,” writes an anonymous source that spoke to Business Insider. “There are plenty of people internally who would love to keep it going, so they are working really hard to make sure it doesn’t die. But they’re not the ones writing the checks.”
Google has downplayed these reports, arguing that it still has high hopes for Stadia. The platform’s official Twitter account doubled down on its position, writing, “If you hear one thing, hear this: The Stadia team is working really hard on a great future for Stadia and cloud gaming.”