Of course, Google was very interested in spending the money needed to convince big-name developers to bring their games to Stadia. They reportedly spent tens of millions of dollars to get games like Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia. While Google obviously needed those big games to legitimize the Stadia service, their focus on Triple-A titles highlights one of the other big issues with the Stadia concept.
Ultimately, Google Stadia Tried to Appeal to Gamers Who Weren’t Asking For It
In some ways, Google’s apparent obsession with getting big-name developers to bring their biggest titles to Stadia did make sense. Imagine if Xbox or PlayStation said, “We actually decided we don’t need the next Assassin’s Creed game on our platform.” Just look at the war that’s being raged over the rights to future Call of Duty games right now. Those games absolutely matter.
The problem was that people either already owned those games on some other platform or intended to buy them for the platform they already owned. Were there people out there who thought “I want to play Red Dead Redemption 2, but I can only afford the game and not the hardware to play it on”? Absolutely. Were there enough of those people out there to support a service designed to address that problem? Apparently not. If there were, Google did a bad job of letting them know Stadia existed in the first place.
Yet, it’s Cyberpunk 2077 that showcases the extent of Stadia’s failures. At launch, Stadia offered arguably the best way to play Cyberpunk 2077 outside of an incredibly expensive gaming PC. Yet, relatively few people looking for the optimal Cyberpunk 2077 experience decided to buy the game for that platform. Mind you, Stadia’s hardware-free next-gen performance was supposed to be one of its biggest selling point. Furthermore, anyone who wanted to give that game a shot on that service simply had to buy a title they were already planning on buying. The problem was that most gamers who had already invested in some other gaming hardware just weren’t interested in investing in a service they didn’t technically need and seemingly didn’t really believe. Again, there are quite a few people out there who just didn’t know Stadia existed in the first place.
From top-to-bottom, Stadia was seemingly designed to appeal to users who either straight up didn’t want/need it or never felt compelled to give it a shot even if they didn’t already own a competitive alternative. You can say a lot about Stadia’s inherent problems (the poor design of the Stadia controller, high internet speed requirements, the issues we mentioned above, etc.), but at the end of the day, Stadia was trying to reach people who looked for a reason to care about the service and came up short.
By the time Xbox and Nvidia started offering expanded cloud streaming options, it was clear to pretty much everyone that Stadia was finished. Google often makes impressive pieces of technology, and Stadia was certainly that. However, like so many other shuttered Google products and services, Google’s technology ultimately failed because of Google’s fundamental misunderstanding of the market they were trying to enter. Few wanted to wear Google Glasses on their face, few felt the need to use Google Dictionary over the perfectly fine dictionary that already existed, and few gamers ever really had a desire to give Stadia a shot over services and products they already knew and were more confident were still going to be there in just a few years time.