Top 10 Reasons Why Google Stadia Failed
VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci
WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Google Stadia had potential, but there are so many reasons why it failed. For this list, we're looking at the numerous factors that played a part in Stadia's downfall. Our countdown includes its lack of exclusives, the Creative Director's views on streamers, shutdown of internal studios, and more!
Script written by Ty Richardson
Google Stadia had potential, but there are so many reasons why it failed. For this list, we’re looking at the numerous factors that played a part in Stadia’s downfall. Our countdown includes its lack of exclusives, the Creative Director's views on streamers, shutdown of internal studios, and more! Was there any real potential for the streaming platform? Let us know what you thought of Stadia in the comments below.
#10: A Total Misfire
The last time we saw a major competitor join the gaming console and PC market was in the early 2000’s when Microsoft unveiled the first Xbox. Sure, Valve and Apple made their own splashes with Steam and mobile gaming respectively, but now Google? A tech giant like this could very easily make a promising gaming platform, right? Alas, no. The launch day for Stadia was a disaster as even folks with the best internet you could get were experiencing technical problems. In addition to severe input delay and crashes, Stadia released with missing features such as some remote play options, an achievement system, and family sharing - all features supported on Steam as well as Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
#9: Not All Internet is Equal
The biggest appeal Stadia had going for it was the focus on streaming games. Makes sense for a digital era, just not this one currently. What Google failed to recognize was that we still live in an age where data caps are (for some reason) still a thing. (What, there isn’t enough internet to go around?) So, for those having to stick with low-price, limited data internet packages, Stadia isn’t exactly another service folks would want to tack on, especially since everyone’s already having to download games to their console. Plus, how many of us have accounts with video streaming services like Netflix and HBO Max? And that goes without mentioning how far behind some parts of the world are in their internet speeds.
#8: “Lots of Supporters”
During their reveal presentation, Google convinced us the future lied within Stadia by showing how many developers and publishers were on board with the platform. Indeed, the number was staggering, but over the years, we saw how manufactured it really was. Many of the games that appeared on Stadia were games that had already been released long before the platform launched. “Wreckfest”, “Saints Row IV”, “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night”, “Destroy All Humans”, the 2016 reboot of “Hitman” - all games that were available way before they got to Stadia, and they were on multiple platforms on their initial launch days. Was Stadia given support by these publishers? Sure, just not in the way many of us had expected.
#7: Help Wanted
If there was any hint that Stadia had been in trouble these last couple of years, it was the several headlines about developers and executives leaving the platform. In February 2021, Google shutdown their internal studios, including one lead by “Assassin’s Creed” producer Jade Raymond, as they decided to shift focus to third-party studios. Then, their Head of Product, John Justice, left Stadia a few months afterwards while more devs left to go work for other companies. Google tried to mitigate these losses by claiming the platform was “alive and well”, but…well, we’re only on number seven - we still got six more entries to go!
#6: Whacked Work
Indeed, the closure of internal studios would cause many to wonder why they should work with Stadia in the first place. The uncertainty only grew after details about the policies for developers came out in July 2021. Google announced that moving forward, developers would be paid certain amounts depending on how long their games were played on the platform. According to Head of Strategic Business Development Careen Yapp, this would be calculated based on “Session days”, or how many days the game was played, not how many times it was booted up. And Google would reap thirty percent of the revenue.
#5: Not All Press is Good Press
Even when the product was not the focus, Stadia still managed to generate controversy. One notorious instance came in October 2020 after Alex Hutchinson, then-Google Stadia’s creative director, tweeted about how streamers should be paying game companies royalties for streaming their games. As one would expect, the internet exploded over this remark as the tweet received nearly seventeen thousand replies and more than nineteen thousand quote retweets. Many a content creator and pundit criticized Hutchinson, and Google distanced themselves from him almost immediately. You can guarantee this caused more folks to stay away from Stadia.
#4: Silence is NOT Golden
When Stadia was still gearing up for launch, Google managed to make itself the talk of the town. Stadia was all anyone could think about. How would this affect console gaming? Could this be the future of games? How strong are the early adopters going to be? Unfortunately, it was all talk. Its troublesome launch caused many to jump ship, and it didn’t get better afterward. Customers went through a long period of silence before Google came out to address anything else. The outrage was especially loud on the Stadia subreddit as Google went more than forty days without acknowledging the complaints and concerns.
#3: Google: A Controversial Tech Giant
Folks would be quick to claim, “Of course Stadia failed, it’s a Google product.” We can certainly see why someone would make such a remark. Google has long been a contentious company, having shut down several services shortly after their launch. However, others have had problems with the company through other branches like YouTube. Some content creators and developers went out of their way to denounce the platform, citing Google’s treatment towards YouTube creators and how the platform heavily enforces self-censorship. Even the developer of “Terraria” went out of their way to express their disdain and canceled the game’s Stadia port.
In the gaming hardware market, it’s important for companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to deliver titles exclusive to their platform. This is what helps drive sales for their consoles, and exclusivity is what keeps these companies competing for our time and money. For some reason, Stadia didn’t feel the need to go hard on this aspect. For what few exclusives Stadia had, none of them were marketed heavily enough to grab eyes, and most of them came out mediocre or just plain bad. Some exclusives like “Super Bomberman R Online” would launch elsewhere later on. When the other platforms are delivering heavy-hitters like “Spider-Man”, “Halo”, and “Mario”, how are you going to compete, really?
This was honestly the biggest flub of Stadia as a product, as a platform, and as a brand. Before launch, Google was being really coy about how much Stadia was going to cost. Turns out, it was way too much. Users were expected to pay a monthly fee just for the service while games were still being sold on the platform for full price! In other words, you were paying for the ability to pay for the ability to play games. It was Steam with another paywall in front of it. By the time Google tried to sweeten the deal with its own offerings of free games, it was too late - many had left, very few have returned.