Google's ambitious cloud gaming service, Stadia, took off to a promising start when it was launched in November last year. However, two months after its launch, the fate of the game streaming platform seems to be surrounded by doubt.
There were numerous reports that suggested that Google is not doing enough to keep the early adopters happy. Unlike Apple Arcade and Nintendo Switch, the platform does not seem to have a sizeable collection of games.
Google isn't paying enough incentive to Stadia developers
It is a known fact that gaming platforms survive on games and thrive on their exclusives and so far Google has only managed to get only a handful of exclusive titles onboard it's 'First on Stadia'. These include titles such as Orcs Must Die! 3 and Get Packed. Stadia has not really had a good enough influx of games in general and it still looks like a lot of developers do not support the platform even after all this time. Now, a new report suggests the reason for this.
Google isn't offering enough incentives
According to a Business Insider report citing some game developers, the reason why there are not enough indie titles on the platform is that Google is not offering enough "incentive" for some developers and game publishers to bring their games to Stadia.
In its report, Business Insider spoke to a number of game developers and publishers, under the condition of anonymity, about their dealings with Google and their decision to not bring their games to Stadia.
Here's an excerpt from the report: "We were approached by the Stadia team,' one prominent indie developer told me. 'Usually, with that kind of thing, they lead with some kind of offer that would give you an incentive to go with them.' But the incentive 'was kind of non-existent,' they said. 'That's the short of it. It is a statement we heard echoed by several prominent indie developers and two publishing executives we spoke with for this piece. 'It's that there isn't enough money there,' one of the publishing executives we spoke with said. The offer was apparently 'so low that it wasn't even part of the conversation."
Stadia player base
While the lack of a direct financial incentive is one thing, the developers also claim that Google did not have anything else to offer them. The developers, in addition, to be paid a fair incentive for their work, also want their games to be played, which is yet another challenge altogether.
One developer even compared the significantly larger audiences for Stream and Nintendo Switch when compared to the measly subscriber base of Stadia, and since Stadia does not have a large subscriber base at the moment, the developers want to be reimbursed for their time to port a game to the service.
"There are platforms you want to be on because they have an audience and you want to reach that audience, […] That's what Steam is, or that's what [Nintendo] Switch is. They have big groups on their platforms, and you want to be with those groups so they can play your games."
Stadia Base launch
There is some hope left in the impending launch of Stadia Base which will open Stadia to everyone who is willing to pay for a game. Thereby, boosting player base and hopefully alleviate some of the financial constraints. But the bigger issue seems to be trust, and developers seem skeptical of Stadia's long term success. The developers fear that Stadia could just be another unproven Google endeavour, and that Google may eventually shut it down.
Google's history of shutting down unsuccessful endeavours
The fear is not very surprising as over the years Google has had to, unfortunately, shut down a lot of its apps and services as a result of lack of user base without necessarily creating a suitable replacement.
"This concern — that Google might just give up on Stadia at some point and kill the service, as it has done with so many other services over the years — was repeatedly brought up, unprompted, by every person we spoke with for this piece," reads an excerpt from the report.
The Mountain View California-based tech giant has a reputation for shutting down services that do not work and Stadia could be on its way to meet a similar fate, even though it seems a little unlikely since a lot of games have already invested thousands of dollars in the service. However, we may never know because of the gaming industry's volatility and competitiveness.
Although there are a lot of threats to its survival right now especially from Microsoft's Xbox Project xCloud, which is currently under trial with thousands of test gamers onboard. The cloud game streaming service is rumored to be part of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription which reportedly has 'millions of subscribers'. However, there is still hope that Stadia should see it through.
There is still hope
Many of the publishers and developers who spoke to BI are very "supportive and want Stadia to succeed." Meanwhile, Google has also announced that it is testing over 120 games that will be released over the course of the year and 4 of them have already been released.
We just hope Google offers more financial incentives to developers and reassures them that it will not shut down the service in a year or two, if the expectations that the company had are not met, Hopefully, Stadia will not meet the same fate as so many of Google's services in the past.