To say that Google’s entry into the games market was underwhelming is probably underselling it.
The search giant’s Stadia streaming platform has limped out as what feels like a half-arsed effort, which is undeniably disappointing given the promise.
By all accounts, the tech is solid, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for a company that has spent its entire existence trying to shape how the internet looks. But it’s the games side of the business that appears to be lacking.
The warning signs were there from the start when Phil Harrison and co took to the stage at this year’s GDC. We were promised the future of video games, with lots of vague claims about how the firm was going to revolutionise how people buy and play games, as well as interact with these experiences and content creators on its YouTube platform.
But ultimately, much of this was left at the headline stage. In March, Google more or less told us that they had data centres and therefore could beam content to your home at a fast pace at a really high resolution. That was more or less it.
The conventional wisdom for launching a platform is that you need to do a few core things. You need to show off what your tech can do, how much more sophisticated this is than your previous offerings or other platforms on the market and you need to show off things that can only be done with your solution. While first-party exclusives don’t matter nearly as much as they did, say, in the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube era, you need to be able to show the capabilities of your tech and having developers around who can make the most of it as something of a show of strength is important.