Stadia Thoughts

Google Stadia is in the news a bunch of places and MMO Fallout probably has it correct – the problem with Stadia is Google, not the underlying tech. Google seems to have corporate ADHD or very unrealistic timelines for success. They appear to half-heartedly launch product after product and then give up quickly. The joke is they’ll launch a product and also include its shutdown timeline in the same announcement. Or they’ll shutdown a product before it launches.

Stadia’s probable future is licensing the tech to game publishers that want to implement streaming without having to develop the tech (and data centers).

I have Stadia and enjoy it. I also have a gaming PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and haven’t thrown them away. I like Stadia because it fills a niche for me (gaming while traveling) and works really well. My friend likes it because it lets her access games that aren’t available for Nintendo systems.

I also think Stadia could have become a massive success. Maybe it still can but the window of opportunity is closing and a lot of time has been wasted. Amazon is probably a better steward for this tech – they have cloud computing, streaming knowledge, a game studio, and invest for the long term. I’d say Microsoft too but they are also trying to sell consoles and operating systems.

The reason why is: TV.

Yes, the humble TV. These days outside rounding errors, TVs can run apps and typically come with a few, like Netflix, an app that streams video over the internet. This is basically the same thing as Stadia, which streams game video over the internet to a Chrome browser tab. A TV that can run Netflix can also run Stadia. Yes bandwidth is an issue but if HD video streaming from Netflix renders acceptably, then so will a game. (This isn’t a battle to convert the 4K 120 Hz gamers).

That’s the key for Stadia. Screw battling for scraps of market share taken from PS4, Xbox, PC – instead, grow the potential market to everyone on the planet that has a TV, and capture a part of this much much larger pool.

Cut deals with TV manufacturers to include the Stadia app in future TV sales, sell Chromecasts and controllers for current TV owners… plant a massive amount of seeds that no other platform can touch. (Except the smartphone, but Stadia already can stream there too)! Answer the typical “who is this for, AAA gamers that don’t already have a PC or console?” question with “everyone on the planet that owns a TV”.

Expand the content library. It’s small but functional, it proves various high-graphics games can exist and run acceptably. So rather than getting more high resolution shooters, have the (now disbanded) SG&E division work on family friendly games, ones that don’t involve killing stuff non-stop. Games like Animal Crossing (not throwing AC under the bus but it isn’t my style game. However it does have large appeal). Games that don’t need cutting edge graphics so they stream well at lower bandwidth. License board games and develop Stadia implementations of them. Heck, buy Marvelous, get a deal with TenCent, somehow put Story of Season 2 on Stadia. Do the same with other studios.

This is all presentation – after all, who is to say that Pokemon isn’t a game that involves enslaving helpless animals to perform gladiator combat for you. But it isn’t presented that way and is instead seen as a kid-friendly collect-a-thon juggernaut of a franchise.

Ingress and Pokemon Go’s studio Niantic spun out of Google; get a deal with them for their AR engine and make a new game that also plays on Stadia (smartphones) with some hook to use Stadia on TV too.

Redo the subscription, lower it to $5/mo. Have a few staple free games always there (Destiny, PUBG, both are already there), throw in some kid-friendly games (board games, puzzles, etc), but save access to other games for a cheap subscription in order to encourage people to subscribe. Run specials, game X is free during the month so come check it out.

Get on sports licensing and add Stadia-specific hooks to games. Madden NFL 21 is already on Stadia, open the checkbook to get FIFA and some Formula 1 racing game there too. Baseball, basketball, hockey too, but football, soccer, formula 1 have a larger and worldwide appeal.

Sponsor these sports leagues, especially any form of playoff, at a level that lets Stadia run 2 minute ads after the game. During that ad, pull out a great feature of Stadia – State Share.

Kaylriene posted that State Share is only in beta for Cryta. I thought Hitman 3 was implemented with State Share working? I don’t own Hitman 3 on Stadia so I can’t verify.

Anyway, during the post-game show, State Share a scenario from the game that just aired, and let fans replay it themselves. Provide live real-time statistics on how it’s going.

Picture this: 5 years from now, Tom Brady is playing in his 15th Super Bowl, and completes a pass or gets intercepted. Doesn’t matter – post game, State Share the exact setup and make it easy for Stadia gamers to replay the situation RIGHT THEN. Can YOU do better than Brady, or can you defend against him?? Or the team goes for it on 4th down, or doesn’t go for it on 4th down – your turn! XYZ driver lost the race because he couldn’t pass on a tricky curve – can YOU do it? Your country just got eliminated from the World Cup, can you score the goal they needed?? Etc.

Basically issue a challenge and let fans play it IMMEDIATELY!

This won’t work as well for PC or console due to delays waking up devices, navigating the UI, starting the game, diverting attention, the classic “gotta wait for an update”, etc. But for Stadia you should be able to click a button and be dropped right into the game at the State Share point to play right on the same TV. Even better if you can also scan a QR code and pull it up on a smart phone, to get fans away from home in on the action too.

These are the kinds of strengths Stadia needs to capitalize on, not fight some war with pcmasterrace gamers over who the target audience of Stadia is. Answer that question with “every TV owner on the planet” and pull off gaming scenarios they can’t do as easily… leave them slightly annoyed their $5000 battlestation can’t do it as fast and convenient. (The point here is ease and immediacy; yes the PC will be able to since Stadia run there too, but going from watching TV to playing the scenario on their rig will take several steps and be delayed).

For all anybody knows, Google tried making deals which all fell through. So all we’re seeing is the slow wind down culminating in the tech being sold off to recoup costs. It’s sad, I think under better stewardship Stadia could have done so much better. Instead, I’m not even sure what the heck Google has done since it launched. Their reputation for killing off projects is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I get they are a 1.4 trillion dollar company and lots of stuff doesn’t move the needle enough. But games/entertainment could do it if they weren’t so half hearted about everything that isn’t directly feeding their ad business.

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