10.02.2022

Requiem for Google Stadia

Google is Killing Stadia for Good 

    I do have some thoughts on the death of Google Stadia, as a soon to be former player of this niche platform. So I guess I'll go ahead and write everything out while I'm thinking about it. 

The Stadia Community  

    I've met a lot of different people while playing various games on Stadia. So I guess that makes me part of the Stadia community. Early on, I told a couple of my friends about the free controlled and Stadia Pro deal and got them on board with Stadia as well, so there were a couple of people that I knew that I was playing with on occasion as well.

    Everyone I know in the community that hasn't ghosted off the platform by now is all up in their feelings and pissed off about Stadia getting the ax (if you're reading this and part of the Stadia diaspora, you're welcome to join my discord channel cuz GAMES https://discord.gg/EHCBeswRyB)

Don't Blame Bad Marketing

    Google is of course famous for killing products that work perfectly well for the people that actually use them. I was a huge fan of the RSS based Google Reader for many years, up until they pulled the rug out from under it. I had a lot of blogs I read through Google reader, and really those blogs were a big inspiration behind why I started my own blog in the first place. 

    I read a lot of technology news I remember reading about Stadia while it was still in its ground up development stages at Google - before Stadia even had the name Stadia. I remember reading about how they were planning to solved latency issues with AI using predictive inputs, etc, as they were sort of putting the touches into building the project. I remember when Google announced the name and thinking "well that sounds kinda silly." I remember the controllers initially being up for sale. Then I remember there being tons of complaints from the early adopters once it was actually released. But none of those memories is here nor there. I just wanted to point out that Stadia has been on my radar since Google first even started talking about it publicly. 

    Sometime around the beginning of the pandemic, in 2020, Google was basically giving the controllers away along with a free 3 month subscription to Stadia Pro. That's when I got on board with Stadia. 

    I'll give three reasons for why I tried Stadia in the first place; 

  1. I like new technology. 
  2. I like free stuff. 
  3. I like getting stuff in the mail. 
    Stadia ticked all three boxes and boy was I happy when that sexy white controlled showed up in the mail.

Google forcing a gamer to try Stadia
    Google was at different points literally giving away free controllers, chromecast ultras, and Stadio Pro subscriptions. Google was advertising that they were giving them away in the Google Play store, on 200 million android cell phones, and barely anyone signed up, even then. What was Google supposed to do? blackmail people?  I do not really think there was much else Google could have done for Stadia.

No Mass Appeal

    Stadia fanboys talk about the advantages of not needing hardware, portability, etc, but lets face it; all that geeky techno talk means absolutely zip and zero to the masses, which is what Google needed to appeal to, to be successful. 

    Even though Sony was already a household name, Sony Playstation took many many years to find its foothold, they just kept plugging away, and it wasn't even until the Playstation 2 that Sony stopped being niche and ended up being a household name associated with gaming consoles (look at historic sales numbers).

    Very few people even tried Stadia. I know this, because I was there, I was playing it. More or less alone.

Unpopular Opinion: Google didn't Kill Stadia, Stadia Was Already Dead

stadia cross-playsble games
    I once read an article about how being a Stadia player was a really, really, lonely experience. And I think to an extent, that was mostly true. The only one game in the Stadia library I can think of that always had a lot of other players was Player Unknown Battlegrounds. Player Unknown was probably the only developer I can think of whose game's cross-platform functionality actually worked. Here's a list of games that Stadia players could allegedly "cross play" their game with players on other platforms with, but to be honest I'd take that list with a HUGE grain of salt on whether or not that functionality ever actually even worked properly for the game listed.

    Actually, Crayta, I believe, was also cross platform but that shit was, is, and always will be a total trash game, so I'm not going to count it. How anyone could ever have fun playing that I really have no idea. I tried really hard to like it, I wanted to like it, but it just isn't fun.

   The vast majority of my experiences with Stadia, before I realized it was basically a ghost town, was going into a game "cold" and sitting in online lobbies of games like Destiny 2, World War Z, Dead by Dawn, etc (many times on games that were supposedly "cross play"
 with vibrant player communities on other platforms. But I'd sit there, waiting for team matches that would never happen because no one else was playing anywhere in the world. 
 

   

    Even superbly entertaining multiplayer match games like Super Bomberman R Online, which was being actively discussed in the big gaming mags, was dead on the inside. After I had played Bomberman for a while I started to realize everyone else in all the matches I was in were literally just a bunch of bots (and not very good ones, either). At one point, I got myself up in rank to the number one player in the game, but it wasn't really that hard because barely anyone else was playing. Knowing I was playing against bots really took the fun factor out of it. And using any of the emoji or chat features, it was really and truly like talking to yourself, so, pointless to even have that stuff in the game. I think I might have run into another live human a grand total of once in the many, many hours I spent playing Super Bomberman R Online. 

The Stadia Pro Subscription

    So here's my beef with Stadia Pro. Err, Beefs (is that even a word?). I had a few things I didn't care for about Stadia Pro. I'm placing a screenshot from the Stadia website of the "perks" of having Stadia Pro here; because I have a feeling that pretty soon all that shit will go into the dustbin of the internet. I highlighted a couple of things that I want to address here in this blog post, so allow me to digress. 

Stadia Pro was a good deal, in theory. For $9.99 a month, there were new games each month in the Stadia Store that you could claim and put in your "Stadia library" to keep forever (basically you could play them anytime you had an active Stadia Pro subscription).  Now that Stadia is shutting down its service, I guess that means all the games I kept an active subscription for so I could claim them and play them at my leisure are going buh bye. Lame.

I actually found a few gems that I otherwise would have never even heard of or tried playing through Stadia Pro (e.g. Orcs Must Die 3 or Journey to the Savage Planet). 

So what the fuck exactly did I get for that $9.99 I was paying each month for pro? I'm still trying to figure that out. I'll probably still be trying to figure it out in 10 years. 

Streaming to Youtube

 
 

In Conclusion

Stadia was, in the end, something that never caught on. It was a product aimed at a market that didn't have a demand for it. A good idea, just not an idea that there was a market to support it. And I do have some thoughts on the timing of Stadia getting cancelled.

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