Post-launch situation of Stadia
Stadia was a cloud-based gaming platform that was released on November 19, 2019, and was discontinued on January 18, 2023. It was met with mixed-to-negative reception from both critics and gamers. The platform launched disastrously, with heavily delayed controls, no major exclusive titles, old games that date back from 2016, and severe end-user technical limitations.
This page will show off the problems that Stadia has suffered before and since its launch in 2019 and the problems and situation surrounding the platform to this day.
Even before the November 19 launch, there were some problems that were surrounding Stadia, already giving it a somewhat bad name.
Price model announcement
During the Game's Developer Conference (GDC) 2019 event, the Stadia team revealed the pricing and business model of Google Stadia. Most people assumed that Google will offer a Netflix-like subscription (pay a monthly fee and gain access to a large number of games). However, the model revealed was that Stadia members would have to pay full price for game access. Stadia Pro (the subscription service offered) is only for 4K and surround sound, with one free game being thrown in monthly. This entire business model was one of Stadia's Achilles's heels.
Delayed inputs during the game demo
Also happening during GDC 2019, Google displayed a tech demo to show off how Google Stadia worked. One of the members played Assassin's Creed: Odyssey on multiple devices to show off the screen-switching capabilities of the platform. However, it was caught that the inputs were being heavily delayed, with the character moving and doing actions seconds after the member inputted the actions on the controller. While they did do a somewhat alright job of hiding the delays (by moving from device to device relatively quickly) it was still noticed and called out. This showed that Stadia was not ready to launch even then.
Stagnated deliveries and emails
On November 19, 2019, it was reported that many Founder's Edition orders were not coming in on time as promised while other people were reporting that they did get their Founder's Edition in the mail. What was even worse was that the Stadia Launch Codes (a code that is needed in order to fully access Stadia) were not emailed in unison, with some people getting their access codes while others don't.
End user device limitations
In their advertising campaigns, Stadia claimed that any device with a screen would be able to play and stream Stadia games. However, crawling up on Launch Day, Google released a list of devices that would be able to support Stadia, and it was not a large list:
- On computers, Stadia could only be streamed on Google Chrome and it was capped at 1080p, regardless of whenever the user had Stadia Pro or not.
- On phones, only Pixel devices could stream Stadia. Being that Pixel is only one of many phone brands out there, and not everyone owns a Pixel device, a lot of people couldn't play Stadia on day 1.
- On television, the only way to play Stadia was with the Chromecast Ultra that came with the Founder’s Edition or Premiere Edition. This contradicted the marketing claim of not needing a console or box under the TV, since a small device was still required.
- The Stadia controller had to be connected with a wire to other devices except on TV.
Although Google expanded the list of supported devices after launch, it was not enough to make up for the initial disappointment.
Lack of exclusives and games
During its showcase, it was announced that Stadia would launch with 12 games and only one exclusive. After backlash, Google managed to add 10 more games to its library, bringing the total to 22 games at launch. Considering that this platform was going against industry giants like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo (all of whom have hundreds of games in their libraries and dozens of exclusive titles), this was abysmal. It also didn't help that most of the games were old titles, some of which were dated back from 2016.
Reports of overheating Chromecasts
A few days after Stadia's launch, reports started to come in that players' Chromecast Ultras were overheating and shutting down all on their own when playing on Stadia. The same thing was also happening to people's modems, with this problem being worse to those who were streaming in 4K. It was inferred that this was happening as the Chromecast Ultras were not tailor-made for long-term streaming with Stadia, rather it was jury-rigged to run Stadia and shipped out with no other alterations. When people reported this problem to Google on Reddit, a Google spokesperson flat-out denied the problem existed, saying that testing from their end showed that the Chromecasts were not overheating, so therefore, the problem did not exist.
Google's attempts to turn reviews around
While negative reviews of Stadia were coming left and right, Google tried a few ways to garner more positive attention and turn the reviews around:
- They first created burner accounts and wrote positive reviews about the platform. However they were quickly caught and they soon stopped.
- Then they tried to play the political correctness card, claiming that their controller was "gender-neutral" and was made for everyone. This was a horrible attempt in painting Stadia in a good light, as other platforms had dozens of controller variants available for sale (especially with Xbox and their Design Lab, allowing players to make a controller as they see fit). Not to mention third party controller skins existed in various game themes.
- Google then decided to start signing timed exclusive deals with third party publishers in an attempt to artificially expand their "exclusive" library (similar to the Epic Games Store), starting with Gylt and Get Packed. This resulted in universal backlash against them.
- They then released Stadia Base early, gave out a second buddy pass for Founder's Edition owners, and started giving away Stadia Pro subscriptions with other subscriptions.
These attempts were seen as weak-minded and gave off the impression that Google was getting desperate with the platform.
The Stadia platform had suffered from slow updates on new features and new games. At one point, over 40 days went by without any major news or updates to the community. In fact, the last major update that was reported was on July 1, 2020.
Lack of indie games
On March 2020, several indie studios reported that there was no real incentive on porting and publishing their games on the Stadia platform. This is because Google was offering no real financial incentive for them to port their games to the platform, as well as not seeing Stadia last for the long term (coming from Google's long history of killing off projects that don't take off right away). While AAA studios could take the time, money and chances on publishing their games on Stadia (due to the millions they generally make), indie studios don't have those resources on hand and have to make their decisions wisely. It also doesn't help that Stadia's core OS is Linux-based, making porting to it much more complicated and that Google had refused to give indie studios the resources and assistance to help port indie games on their platform.
Lack of official Stadia support in the new Chromecast Ultras
On September 28, 2020, several stores started to sell the new Chromecast Ultra (a few days before Google was set to announce it) and it was baffling when it was found out that Stadia was not officially supported on the new Chromecasts, with Google announcing that support would be released during the first half of 2021. Many stated that Google had shot themselves in the foot here, as the new Chromecast had Bluetooth capabilities, meaning that an Xbox or PlayStation controller could be connected to it; this in turn could give people a chance to try out Stadia, as now they didn't have to purchase any additional hardware (like the Stadia controller) to play games on the TV.
The lack of support in the new Chromecast Ultra was a big red flag to many that Google had started to wind down Stadia.
Shutdown of Stadia Games & Entertainment
On February 1, 2021, the head of Google Stadia, Phil Harrison, released an blogpost about the winding and shutting down Stadia Games & Entertainment (their first party studio), saying that they were restructuring the platform to be more focused on third party. This means that the Stadia platform will never have an in-house first party studio, but sends up the biggest red flag that Google is planning on sending Stadia to the graveyard. The developers at SG&E were not given any advanced notice on the shutdown; Harrison instead sent out an email praising the staff for the work they were doing, giving them hope for their future only for them to find out that they were going to be laid off on the same day as everyone else.
Google screws over Re-Logic Studio and refuses to give them support
On February 9, 2021, Andrew Spinks, CEO of Re-Logic Studio (the team behind Terraria) abruptly announced that the Stadia version of Terraria was canceled after revealing that their Google account was disabled out of nowhere for no reason and Google refused to offer any kind of support or give any kind of response. Andrew revealed that this happened three weeks ago and stated that working with Google is a liability because of their lack of cooperation and support to their problems.
Heavily mismanaged finances for games on Stadia
On February 26, 2021, an investigative report from Jason Schreier revealed just how badly Google mismanaged Stadia financially: according to the article, Google was paying AAA publishers like Ubisoft and Take-Two Interactive $10-20 million per port of their most popular franchises (Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2, respectively).
Schreier later expanded on his thoughts about this on his twitter, making it clear that Google wasted tons of money on these old games and that the money would have been better off if it was given out to indie developers.
On September 29, 2022, Google announced that it would shut down Stadia, citing its lack of traction with users (the issues mentioned above also contributed to that). The service shut down on January 18, 2023, and Google refunded all purchases for hardware and games made through the Google and Stadia stores. All storefront features were disabled with the announcement.
On January 18, 2023, the Stadia service went offline permanently.