Google Stadia launched on November 19th this year. Despite a lot of industry hype and some genuine excitement around what it could do to what some perceive to be a fairly stagnant gaming industry, Stadia was plagued with problems at launch. Its initial lineup was paltry, boasting only twenty-two games, most of which people had already played before on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch. Stadia also suffered multiple technical issues, a number of weird glitches regarding usernames, and Founder’s Edition woes whereby people who paid for the rather expensive Founder’s Edition couldn’t access the service.
So, with Stadia on the rocks, the question now becomes “what next for Google?”. The Menlo Park tech giant will be wondering what lessons it can learn from Stadia, as well as where it goes from here in the gaming industry. A number of different options are available to Google, and while some of them will likely be looking more attractive than others right now, the fact remains that Google will need to do something about Stadia in order to establish it as a presence in most gamers’ minds. Here are just some of the options Google has when it comes to moving forward in the gaming industry.
Double down on Stadia
The Stadia brand has probably been irreparably damaged by a pretty disastrous launch, but that doesn’t mean that this is the end for Stadia. Google could well decide to double down on its gaming venture and put all of its eggs into this basket. That would mean not only fixing the technical problems (can we play games in 4k at 60fps as promised, please?) but also adding a number of new games and trying to secure some truly enticing exclusives. There’s a lot of work to do for Google to make Stadia viable, but it is possible if the tech giant really believes in its ideas.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Google could decide to completely abandon Stadia. For the first few months, Google will stick to its guns and try to attract customers with new games and extra features. After a while, though, the third-party developer interest will dry up, consumers will grow bored – especially with new consoles on the horizon – and Google will be left with little choice but to walk away from Stadia and chalk it up as a failure. It’s a shame, because Stadia has a lot of potential, but if Google isn’t willing to put the work in then it will likely die.
Try a conventional console
Perhaps Google’s biggest mistake was to go straight for the streaming market without any traditional console experience under its belt. Although streaming is definitely a potentially lucrative market with a lot of legroom, it’s an unproven concept that hasn’t quite worked for other services in the past (see also OnLive). With that in mind, it might be a good idea for Google to try creating a conventional console which uses some of the Stadia branding but has more traditional hardware functionality. It’s unlikely Google will want to do this, but it could be a way back into the industry.
Become a third-party service
With Stadia not quite setting the world on fire as Google hoped it would, one option available to the Menlo Park giant is to offer Stadia as a third-party service to other consoles and hardware providers. The service itself has a lot of potential, and Google’s clean, clear user interface would make it the clear standout in a world of murky possibilities and alternatives. Again, we don’t think Google will go for this option, largely because Sony and Microsoft are aiming to create their own streaming services and likely won’t accept Google on their platforms.
Try its hand at developing games
One of Stadia’s biggest issues is that it doesn’t really have any first-party games. Google says it’s created a studio – Stadia Games and Entertainment – headed up by Jade Raymond. This studio intends to create first-party content which will be released each year. The problem is that this content hasn’t materialised yet; it would probably have been better for Google to have some strong first-party offerings at launch. If Google doubles down on its development efforts and creates some truly exciting games that utilise the potential of Stadia, it could rescue its platform.
Walk away from the industry entirely
Since the catastrophic failure of Google Plus, the tech company has decided not to venture into the social network market again (although some reports suggest it’s building a new social networking service). Perhaps the same thing will happen when it comes to Stadia; Google could well decide that since Stadia didn’t work, it’s better off simply leaving gaming entirely and not attempting to compete with the giants. Since gaming is a massively lucrative market, we’re not sure Google will be able to walk away quite so easily, but Stadia could be the straw that broke the camel’s back (despite there only being one straw, so to speak).