On November 19th, Google Stadia will be celebrating anniversary. However, where the promise of the presentations prior to the commercialization of the American giant’s service hinted at a new era for the industry of video games, the soufflé quickly fell back, and it is not a secret that, with each new Stadia connect conference, more and more of the public has shown a certain disinterest in this technology. But does Google still have cards up its sleeve to raise the bar or is it irrevocably doomed to fall into oblivion before it has even proven itself?
With Google Earth, Docs, Chrome, Music or Youtube, and the unmissable Android, it is nigh impossible to find an individual with access to Internet that has not yet been in contact with Google at least once. However, the video game industry seemed to have been left behind by the powerful company, the ever-expanding market is already well-started by a handful of behemoths that Google would like to join. Indeed, a team was dedicated to the development of Google Stadia, a cloud gaming technology with original features and, theoretically, infinite power, suggesting that the first productions exclusive to this service would bring a revolution, or at least set a real benchmark as to what the future of the service could allow.
However, even ahead of its official launch, doubt had gripped some of the public, in part because of unclear communication about its features, as well as a disappointing business model. Indeed, at a time when the major players in the industry are launching, or trying to launch programs of video games at a lower cost (free games in the Epic Store, Uplay +, Origin Access, Xbox Game Pass, PS Plus and PS Now, etc.) Stadia, for her part, will require players to pay the full price of games they want associated with her service, or to subscribe to a pro subscription to get a list of games regularly updated. However, the majority of the dissidents seem to have some trouble with the catalog problem. While the titles available in the catalogue are for the most part of very good quality, they are far from being the most recent, in an industry that is always going faster and which, from one year to the next, increasingly adds to the list of outstanding titles that players want to, and often can, play very quickly after their release, if not on the same day, through subscriptions or the various sales that now dictate market prices.
The recent Stadia Connect has confirmed this tendency not to systematically place the newest games at the heart of Stadia. If it has already demonstrated that its technology is full of promise and above all that it works very well as it is, it is difficult to know precisely which audience Stadia is addressing. Indeed, will the purely casual and not necessarily the technophile player be seduced by an offer that remains vafue? For their part, the majority of regular players, whether they play on PC or consoles, are for the most part already equipped to play in the best possible conditions or have, undoubtedly, already paid for the games that the Google service offers on Stadia.
It remains to be seen whether the ability to play anywhere (under the constraint of data, undoubtedly handicapping) will be enough to sell the concept to the public, the ability to play on nearly any device, and independently of any expensive equipment being part of Stadia’s main arguments. It is likely that the launch of Stadia was precipitated by the imminent arrival of the next generation consoles, who had already half-heartedly confessed their intention to offer their machines in “all digital” versions, while insisting on the possibility of playing in the cloud. Microsoft and Sony already have their dedicated technology and are looking to extend them as much as possible. Stadia tried to invest in a market that would eventually only be taken by a storm later on, trying to build up a certain lead because being the first to fully fit into this niche that for the time remains vacant, or rather almost (cloud computing solutions had already attempted to settle in, albeit more as a test than with true intentions).
If there is still a real unknown, and not least, that is what Stadia really has in her belly. Currently its catalog does not target a specific audience, offers some exclusives, but remains a little shy and struggles to impose its monetization models in the minds of players. On the other hand, what is happening in the premises of Stadia Games and Entertainment, a division created by the occasion, remains in the register of unknowns. If the head of the studio revealed that her and her partners wanted to release an exclusive game a year and, above all, to offer games that would be impossible to develop with traditional architectures, this is not on the agenda at the moment and the progress of the work remains discreet. If indeed, the development of a major game with a high budget can neither be rushed nor be presented too early, it is a fact that its difficult for Stadia, without the revolutionary effect of bringing to life a title exploiting 100% its features, to make itself a place in the market, already very saturated and already facing the new generation of consoles planned for the end of the year.