New news about Google's cloud game service has appeared in Wired and Bloomberg.

Stadia's challenges are shown in two new reports


Two recent papers, one from Bloomberg and the other from Wired, have shed light on some of Google's Stadia cloud gaming service's flaws. The rumors come just weeks after Google revealed that its in-house Stadia game production studios will be closing down.

According to Wired, one major concern is that Google could not have invested as much in its internal studios as its much-hyped Stadia plans suggested. As Google made its first major splash for Stadia at the Game Developers Conference in 2019, Stadia director Phil Harrison unveiled Google's Stadia Games and Entertainment studios. Wired reports that "it would be months before Google finally hired the majority of" the studio's engineers. According to Wired, Google hoped to recruit 2,000 employees over the course of five years to create Stadia sports.

As Stadia first released, my colleague Sean Hollister said right in the headline that it was "only just a beta." According to Wired, Stadia engineers agreed: “Stadia staff expressed the frustration that the technology felt like a beta at launch.” Although Stadia operated, in the sense that it could download games from the cloud to a PC or tablet, it lacked many of the features showcased in the company's pre-launch marketing.

Stadia "did not meet internal targets in 2020," according to two outlets. Bloomberg announced that Google exceeded Stadia expectations for “sales of controllers and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands,” according to Bloomberg.

That may not come as a surprise if you've been watching Stadia — my colleague Tom Warren considered Stadia to be a lonely place back in May — but it seems that even free Stadia Premiere kits weren't enough to help Google achieve its Stadia targets.

According to Bloomberg, Google has tried to entice customers to Stadia by striking deals with developers for tens of millions of dollars worth of tentpole titles like Red Dead Redemption 2. According to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, Google reportedly invested tens of millions of dollars per terminal.

I strongly advise you to read both Wired and Bloomberg's posts on Stadia's difficulties. Stadia will continue to remain as a website for the time being, even though Google will no longer be developing games for it.

Harrison also said in a blog post about the studio closures that Google is “increasing our attention on leveraging our technology platform for business partners,” which may imply that Google will sell Stadia as a white-label cloud gaming service to other businesses. However, with studio closures and these two leaks, it's difficult not to believe that Google Stadia's future is bleak.


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