Google’s gaming platform struggles, explained

Last year, Google was planning to hire thousands to make video games. It just shut down its in-house gaming studios.


March 2, 2021

When Google introduced its Stadia game-streaming service in August 2019, it got flack for connectivity issues during the grand unveiling.

Those glitches may’ve been a sign of things to come.

Last month, the company shuttered its in-house studios — and now, its future is streaming in 240p (translation: things are a bit unclear).

Stadia had something good going

Google promised a platform for playing top titles across smartphones and TV — no 10-pound console necessary.

The company promoted exciting features like Crowd Play (that allowed streamers to pull fans directly into games off YouTube) and hired developers, designers, and producers from Ubisoft and Electronic Arts.

But Stadia’s problems were real

Stadia ended up being a little like one of those Tinder dates where the person who shows up looks nothing like his photos.

At launch, promised features and in-house games weren’t available. Since then, Stadia has struggled to recover, failing to meet 2020 growth targets by hundreds of thousands of users.

Some attribute these struggles to hiring failures: While it’s reported that Google planned to hire 2k people to make Stadia games, only around 150 were impacted by the closures. 

What happens now?

Stadia could likely offer its tech to gaming companies for cloud services. 

Meanwhile, other companies are working on their own cloud gaming platforms:

  • Microsoft acquired over a dozen gaming studios and is methodically rolling out xCloud.
  • Amazon just widely released its Luna platform, though its in-house studios have struggled despite spending $500m annually. 
  • Nvidia’s GeForce Now recently recorded 175m streaming hours in its first year.

Though Stadia has struggled, a large-scale move from consoles to streaming is likely just a matter of time, which is unfortunate because then we won’t get console memes like this:

So so good (Source: Twitter/@matthiasellis)

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