The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

A year before the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S were officially announced, Google expressed its vision for the future of the video game industry; Google Stadia, a cloud gaming service that allows you to experience the game through any device using cloud technology. They saw the vision of the next generation of platforms outside the console boxes.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

A year before the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S were officially announced, Google expressed its vision for the future of the video game industry; Google Stadia, a cloud gaming service that allows you to experience the game through any device using cloud technology. They saw the vision of the next generation of platforms outside the console boxes.

In the days before the main unveiling through an outdoor exhibition near the Moscone Center in San Francisco, at the corner of 4th Street and Howard Street next to the historical pieces From the world of video games such as the Nintendo Power Glove, the Dreamcast, and a copy of the infamous ET: The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, there was an empty box that piqued the curiosity of the GDC 2019 audience and announced the introduction of something that It is going to be unveiled some time later. What later turned out to be the Stadia handle.

It was just a few weeks ago that Google announced that it was going to shut down the Stadia cloud platform in the coming months. Looking at it now in this context, it may seem ironic but natural that the first hints and hype of Stadia took place alongside some of the industry's most famous failures.

The full implications of this are still emerging. But while the fallout continues, it might be a good time to think about what Google was doing with its game streaming efforts.

Early signs

This platform initially started its work under the name "Project Stream", which was a collaboration between Google and Ubisoft, and its task is to play the game "Assassin's Creed Odyssey" through It was browsers. This raised speculations about the possibility of launching a cloud game service by Google; In fact, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, described this service as probably the worst kept secret in the industry.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

Promises

Stidia was officially announced at GDC 2019. Google stated that the service enables users to play video games on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, laptops and televisions (via Chromecast). Phil Harrison, president of Stadia and an industry veteran, talked about a world where players could watch a gameplay trailer, click on a Stadia link, and be playing that game within five seconds. No need for a special expensive hardware, no need for a console, no need to wait and with a community of two billion people available.

Technology

Statistics | 10.7 Teraflops That's the amount of power Google said Stadia could use thanks to its global network of data centers and custom AMD GPUs. Google boasts of the fact that this figure is higher than the GPU of the PlayStation 4 Pro with 4.2 teraflops and the Xbox One X with 6 teraflops. And they can be played at 60 frames per second (and they also talked about their plans to upgrade the resolution to 8K). Along with HDR capability and surround sound, this offered attractive technical specifications to encourage people to be attracted to this platform. Google also hinted that some features would only be possible with the power of cloud technology, including:

  • A SteamConnect feature that allows multiple players to see each other's game screens without developers having to. that sacrifice the visual quality or performance of the game
  • StateShare feature that allows players to share a playable version of specific moments or scenarios with each other.

Internal development team

Finally, Google announced that an internal development studio called "Stadia Games and Entertainment" (Stadia Games and Entertainment) led by Jade Raymond (Jade Raymond) who Known for his work and experience at Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, he founded the company to develop titles that showcase the full power of the streaming service.

During our conversation with Harrison that week, he It told us that Stadia was the beginning of an inevitable, one-way switch from consoles to new technology.

Quote > | For the past 40 years, the industry has been device-centric. As a developer I make my game for one device. On top of that, it's been package-centric, I either release the game on a disc or cassette or a cartridge, or even more advanced now I download it as a package. However, it still follows the same mental model of one package for one thing. Yesterday we passed through this glass ceiling and to Developers, we said, the Internet is your store and your network and data center is your platform.

I think this is a really exciting moment for the industry. The whole world will not change overnight to that new model and it will take time for us to understand all the aspects and promises that are possible with its realization. But this is a fundamental path and, I believe, an inevitable and one-way path that this industry is moving towards."

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

Initial Reactions

Initial reactions to Stadia's launch were highly variable. On the one hand, we saw cautiously optimistic reactions, and on the other hand, there was obvious confusion. Google had clear advantages few other companies had the infrastructure to do this but there were still many unanswered questions, including its business model.

Quote | "I'll be shocked if it's not based on subscription services." - Lewis Ward

quote | This kind of technology and not just from Google could cause a major downward trend in prices that could really affect what the big video game publishers can charge for their games. This has worried many investors, as the ability to get consumers to pay big bucks to access games has been a key reason for success for big publishers. "Streaming services threaten this equation." - David Cole (David Cole)

quote | To capture meaningful market share, Google needs to acquire exclusive content that draws customers to its offerings, and that's exactly the missing piece for Stadia right now. Just because the platform is now in the cloud doesn't mean that part of the industry's economics has changed. - Joost van Dreunen from Superdata Group

In the weeks after the initial introduction, both Xbox and PlayStation reacted to the introduction of Stadia and expressed their thoughts. He mentioned the requirement of exclusive content. At that time, Microsoft was working on the XCloud project, which was later renamed Xbox Cloud Gaming, but even then, Xbox executives were talking about the service as a complement to the consoles, not a replacement for it.

Meanwhile, Sony announced that the company's cooperation with Microsoft in the field of cloud technology infrastructure was due to the rise of Stadia.

Quotation | The landscape is changing rapidly. If we simply rely on the world we have known for the past 25 years, we are in serious danger of being overtaken by the events around us. Therefore, we should be open-minded and willing to do things that we have not had to do in the past. Jim Ryan, President of PlayStation

Did Stadia kill Mad Box?

One of the interesting things that happened after the introduction of Stadia was that it indirectly led to the cancellation of another 9th generation console. A device called "Mad Box" was working. According to the developers, it was a high-end device that supported 4K resolution and virtual reality technology at a rate of 60 frames per second, but in an interview, Nathan Bell from the studio announced that the project had failed.

Nathan Bell said in that interview: "We had a solid investment in this field, but when Google said that the future of the industry is not in physical boxes, it didn't help us at all. In fact, after the introduction of Stadia and because of this statement, two of the investors withdrew from the project. All I can say is that the future of this project is questionable and unclear."

Since then, no news has been released about Mad Box, and given that Slightly Mad has also dropped its trademark at the same time.

Release Time Plans

In June and just a little before E3, the trading system and Announced the release date of the Stadia cloud platform. This service was scheduled to launch in November of that year, and its subscription service had two levels, Stadia Pro and Stadia Base, the first being a premium service and the second being a free and basic service. Also, the revelation that the games have to be purchased separately and it doesn't matter which level you choose has sparked a lot of backlash.

Stats | $9.99 the monthly price of the Stadia Pro service, which players could use to run games with 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, and HDR capability through cloud technology and also benefit from discounts for purchasing games. Sometimes this service offered games for free. However, owners of the basic service that It was a free service, they were limited to 1080 resolution and had to buy each game at full price.

Stats | $129.99 this price The Founder's Edition includes a Stadia controller, Chromecast Ultra, a three-month subscription to the Stadia Pro service, and another subscription that you could gift to a friend.

Statistics | 14 This is the number of countries where Stadia will be available at launch, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany, with Google promising that more will be available next year.

Statistics | 10 Mbps Google's recommended connection speed for using Stadia, the company warns that games will be downgraded to 720p resolution on slower connections. The suggested speed of playing the game with 4K resolution is about 35 MB and above.

The company also announced that a selection of titles including Doom Eternal, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Destiny 2 and Square Enix's Tomb Raider trilogy will be available. No exclusive games were announced on the list, which continued to surprise analysts.

While analysts were skeptical, Google CTO Sam Corcoran claimed that developer interest This application has been high.

Statistics | More than 4,000 people the number of developers who have applied to publish games on Stadia.

More promises

At the same time, Google announced that publishers They can add their subscription services to Stadia; Something they say Ubisoft will take advantage of later.

Meanwhile, Phil Harrison explained that players who purchased a game on Stadia would be eligible if a publisher decided to stop selling it on Stadia. If the service goes out, they will still have access to that game. At that time, the product manager of Stadia, Andrey Doronichev, also hosted a question and answer session on Reddit, where he assured that the industry and users will eventually accept the transition to the cloud.

Quote > | "Going to the cloud is scary. I felt the same way when music was being transferred from files to streams. I still have all my old CDs but it's hard to find a CD player these days. The same thing happened to videos, photos, and other files. Games are no different. Finally, all our games will be safe in the cloud too, and we'll feel good about that. Over the past few years, we have invested heavily in technology, infrastructure and various partnerships. "Nothing in life is certain, but we are committed to making Stadia a success." Andrey Doronichev from Google

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

While this game was facing many technical problems on the 8th generation consoles, it was in a relatively good condition on Stadia. From that, Google announced through the presentation of Stadia Connect that the acclaimed game Red Dead Redemption 2 and the highly anticipated game Cyberpunk 2077 will come to the company's cloud service. The company also decided to support indie games, or independent games, and in this regard, Gwen Ferry's Kine game was confirmed as a game at the time of the launch of this cloud platform.

While news of games It wasn't exclusive, Jed Raymond, who was head of Google's internal development studios at the time, told us that Google made a range of investments in its internal studios, with each project running on a different timeframe. According to what we were told, their plan was that Stadia would be released first with games from third-party studios, followed by projects from other independent studios that Google worked with, and finally games from in-house studios. Google to come.

Quotation | I think it's very important for games from in-house studios to be works that aren't possible on any other platform. I think that's what's really exciting, and that's why we're building our in-house development teams. Jade Raymond

Troublesome Delivery

As Stadia's launch approaches, some cracks in Google's early promises have appeared. For example, at launch wireless controller support was only possible for TVs via Chromecast, and PCs, Macs, and mobile players required a USB-C cable. In another Q&A session on Reddit, we found out that some key features, including 4K resolution on PCs, family sharing, achievements, and Buddy Pass, won't be available until long after launch. They won't be.

Only eight days before the launch, Stadia had only 12 games available for the first day, three of which were Tome Reader titles, and only one of those games was exclusive, which was Tequila Studio's Gylt. It was Works. Almost 24 hours before the launch of Stadia, Google and its partners prepared ten more titles for this platform, which almost doubled the number of games at the time of its launch. Again, we must say that there were no exclusive works in these ten games and some older games were also seen. Two years after the launch of this platform, we found out that Google has paid a total of about 20 million dollars for the port of some Ubisoft games for Stadia, and tens of millions of dollars for the port of Red Dead Redemption 2 and NBA 2K games. /p>

Reviews

The device finally launched and critics were not as impressed as expected. Stadia's streaming technology itself was praised, but the lack of key features promised at launch and the overall lack of quality caused the reactions.

Quote | Even Under ideal conditions (fiber connection, direct connection to a router, connection to a 4K TV with HDR capability), there is a noticeable difference between running a game on Stadia and running a game on local hardware such as PCs or PlayStation 4. "With Stadia, sometimes it feels like you're watching a really cool gameplay video instead of playing the game yourself." Jess Gray from Wired

Quote | There is currently no reason why anyone to buy Stadia, Google has made sure of that, partly with low sales at launch and partly with a weird pricing scheme where you pay three times (for the hardware, for the subscription service, for the games). has shown." - Sean Hollister of The Verge

Quote | Ultimately, the only real advantage of this platform is the lack of a physical box under the TV. If you value the impeccable sense of interior design above game selection, price, offline play or the size of the user community, then you can follow this platform. "Otherwise, if top-notch gaming is what you're after, stick to your home console or pick up Apple Arcade to see what a revolution happens when the focus is on games and not just technology." - Alex Hern of The Guardian

Google later responded to criticism about the quality of the product and released a statement indicating that it was up to the developers themselves to improve the way games run on Stadia.

Primary users

Statistics | 175,000 downloads - Sensor Tower data and statistics analysis center estimates that there were about 175,000 downloads for the Stadia mobile app at the time of its release. It was difficult, and Sensor Tower reported that Android was the largest market for the service at 90 percent and the United States at 41 percent. No additional cost would be extended; However, just less than a month after launch, two launch titles were added to Pro's portfolio. Google reacted quickly and promised to refund the cost of the game to subscribers who had previously purchased Farming Simulator 19 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

From left to right: Jade Raymond - Alex Hutchinson - Sebastian Puel - Reid Schneider

Following the path

With the launch of Stadia, Google continued to expand and strengthen its workforce in the games sector, and for this work the studio took over Typhoon located in Montreal. This studio was led by experienced people like Alex Hutchinson and Reid Schneider. In fact, they acquired Typhoon Studios before the release of their first game, Journey to the Savage Planet.

A few months later, Google established a new studio in the Playa Vista area of Los Angeles, run by the studio's former head. Sony's Santa Monica was led by Shannon Studstill. The team under his leadership was responsible for creating exclusive works for this service.

Statistics | 120 This is the number of games that Google announced.

Google seemed to prefer timed exclusives over full exclusives. Among these 120 mentioned games, the company announced that more than 10 of the games that are going to be released in the first half of that year will be exclusive to Stadia, at least at launch.

Users who were Stadia Pro subscribers at launch were nearing the end of their three free months and were eager to learn more about why they should pay to stay. Listen in this service. Despite Google's promise to bring 120 games to Stadia, the company still had to respond to concerns and complaints about slow introductions, stressing that it's partly up to developers and publishers when their games come to Stadia.

Problem with Apple

The version of this cloud platform in the iOS operating system gradually encountered problems and the dispute between Apple, Epic Games and Microsoft showed that the cloud game services of Stadia's entry into the iPhone maker's ecosystem has been blocked due to the company's insistence that each game must be presented and reviewed separately.

By the end of 2020, Google had found a way to allow players to Log in to this cloud platform through the Safari browser.

Calling indies

In March, Google announced its next move to bring more titles to the cloud game service. Unveiled: The Stadia Makers program, which tried to provide funding, development kits and technical support to selected indie studios. /p>

Of course, this doesn't mean that Google stopped working with big publishers, and they signed exclusive deals with companies like Konami, Harmonix and others. However, not all of these collaborations were completed. While Konami's Super Bomberman R Online was exclusive to Stadia for about 9 months, there was no news of projects that were said to be under development by studios such as Supremacy Games and Harmonix.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

Free samples and reduced prices

Google is slowly naming the "Base" tier for Stadia's free category dropped and instead focused on ways to encourage those who simply registered an account and purchased games to upgrade to a Pro subscription. The company made the subscription level of Stadia Pro free for two months and the installation rate of the Stadia mobile application exceeded one million downloads, and this was the biggest week for Stadia in terms of growth and advertising since its launch.

Meanwhile, the $129.99 Premium version (introduced after the Foundry version sold out) later dropped to $99.99, but lost three months of free Pro subscription.

A quiet first year

Steadia has been making less news in 2020, with various people talking that maybe Stadia is not the priority that Google previously claimed. For example, when the company introduced the new Chromecast, it ignored Stadia support and instead asked users to leave the Android app with it.

It was also later revealed that in October 2020, a lawsuit against Google and Bungie and id Software are also set for Stadia's claims of 4K resolution support.

Good for something else

While Stadia is trying to Attracting end users, developers found it useful during quarantines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Bungie announced that Google's cloud gaming service is an amazing solution for testing games when employees are working remotely.

The beginning of an end

In February 2021, three months into the second year of the service, Google announced that it plans to close down its internal studios and make Stadia's technology available for use and collaboration with other companies.

Phil Harrison confirmed that due to the significant investment required to develop top-quality games, the company would not release or even announce any in-house projects that Stadia Studios was working on. It will not invest in exclusive content.

Jade Raymond, who was the director of Stadia's internal studios, left the company and was able to establish his own independent studio called Haven Studios, which was later acquired by PlayStation. was taken over After his departure, people like John Justice, who was the director of production of the studio, and Jack Basser, who worked as a game director, and six other members left Google and joined the newly formed studio Jade Raymond.

Meanwhile. Typhoon Studios members were also able to reunite and regain their independence and form Raccoon Logic, and even Google gave them back the rights to Journey to The Savage Planet, which is perhaps another sign of the decline in popularity. be the internet giant to gaming.

While Google claimed that the service will continue to operate and that more games from third-party studios will be added to the platform, we couldn't help but feel that it was the end. It's close, let's run away. Everything was prepared for such a thing and was moving in this direction.

Later It turns out that Google didn't inform Stadia staff about the shutdown before publicly announcing the closure of Stadia's internal studios (which sounds familiar), and even before this news they were told about the big progress they made just a week ago. , has appreciated it.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Google announced that the service is in perfect health and even went so far as to Khattab told us that he has more than 100 titles on the list of games for this cloud service in 2021 and continues efforts to grow the Stadia Makers Indie initiative. At the same time, some of Stadia's shortcomings in various features of the platform were addressed this year.

Dividing the wealth

The company also made new efforts to More developers and publishers to bring their games to Stadia. One of these efforts is a more generous income share. In July 2021, Google announced that 70% of the monthly revenue generated by Stadia Pro subscriptions would be split between partners, based on how many days players spent on their games.

In Meanwhile, as of October 1st, 85% of revenue from individual sales of titles will go to developers (but only up to the first $3 million). Google has warned that the revenue split will change at the end of 2023 and at least it didn't make a mistake because Stadia will be discontinued in the first month of 2023.

Following these announcements, Google told us It said it was focusing on helping partners increase their success, improving Stadia's chances by doing so.

Later that year, Google finally announced that many of the early promised features, such as State Share, Stream Connect and Crowd Play are coming to Stadia games soon.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

Warning Signs

In February 2022, exactly one year after Google shut down its in-house game studios, reports surfaced that the company was de-prioritizing Stadia to focus on securing deals around its streaming technology a service that It was later announced to be known as "Immersive Stream for Games". In addition to the fact that they will offer "Click to Play" full games. This caused some users to joke and reminded them of the words and promises of Phil Harrison in the initial introduction of this cloud platform, which stated that while you are watching the Assassin's Creed trailer, you can enter the game within 5 seconds and then enjoy the game experience. Get busy.

Stiadia's death warrant

A few weeks ago, in news that many of us have been waiting for, Google announced that it would soon be removing Stadia from

Steadia users will still be able to access their game catalog until January 18, 2023, after which Google will begin refunding any purchases made by users since the launch of the service. have done in 2019, will do. Developers and publishers were unaware of the impending shutdown until it became public, and major companies such as Ubisoft, Bungie, and IO Interactive are trying to transfer user purchases and player progression during the game to other platforms.

And so on. In order, the days of Stadia are numbered. Stadia's cloud gaming service will be shutting down 1,401 days after it was first officially announced at GDC 2019, and 1,156 days after its official launch.

With all that said, there's probably no need to worry. Let's do a complete autopsy for the reasons behind Stadia's failure, unless we want to say which blow was more fatal to the destruction of the service. While Stadia's technology certainly delivered what it was supposed to (albeit without all the flamboyant promises that were made from the beginning), the lack of exciting exclusive games, a business model that was at odds with most entertainment streaming services, and ultimately The abandonment of Stadia's in-house developer studios meant that it might be impossible for Stadia to continue in its current form.

In time, Immersive Stream for Games may enable third-party companies to But until then, Google's cloud gaming service is another example of Google's failures in its ambitious projects.

BingMag.com The rise and fall of Google Stadia; It’s still early days for cloud gaming platforms

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