The last 12 months or so have been rough times for Google Stadia. Lawsuits, its main first-party development studio shutting down with little warning, issues with indie devs and key folks leaving the company. But according to Google, a company famous for shutting down services, everything is fine. They added a search bar and Resident Evil 7 to the service. Nothing to worry about!
This reassurance that Google Stadia is “alive and well” comes from an interview with Stadia’s Developer Marketing Lead Nate Ahearn on GameIndustry.biz. During the interview, as he assured us that all was well, I got the distinct feeling that all at Google Stadia isn’t well at all, and that the company is mostly rearranging chairs on a sinking Titanic, while pointing towards anything to distract folks from the rapidly rising water levels. And the fact that this ship doesn’t have many people on it.
When asked what Google Stadia was doing that proves it’s actually “alive and well” Ahearn pointed to all the games being added to the service. “We’re well on our way to over 100 new games launching on Stadia in 2021,” explained Ahearn, “And we’re continuing to make Stadia a great place to play games on devices you already own.” When pushed by GI.Biz to give a real answer, Ahearn offered more jargon and gibberish instead, saying Google is, “focused on delivering value for our partners and on behalf of our players.”
According to Google, adding a search bar is how they are “delivering value” to their players. That search bar, from my own experience, isn’t very good. That’s odd considering where Google started as a company, but fully in keeping with Stadia, which continues to feel half-baked.
During the interview, it’s also pointed out that we still don’t know how many people are actually using Google Stadia. The company doesn’t disclose these numbers. Alyssa Kollgaard, Senior Producer at Akupara Games, did tell GI.Biz that Stadia players are “very hungry for titles and are engaged, vocal players.” But that still doesn’t tell us how many people are logging into Stadia every day to play games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Assassin’s Creed. Based on a report from earlier this year, where it was revealed Google spent tens of millions of dollars bringing big games to their platform only to miss its sales target by hundreds of thousands of users, I’d say things aren’t going well.
In fact, during the ongoing Epic vs. Apple court trial, lawyers and witnesses seemed unable to clearly answer the question whether Google Stadia was still operating or not. That’s a bad sign. While Google claims Stadia is alive and well, I’d start digging out a spot in the large and growing Google Graveyard, because I don’t think it’s long for this world. But hey, as it sinks beneath the waves, at least not that many people will drown?