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Google Stadia - “now you can add Ubisoft+, if you’re missing tower climbing in your life”


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March Pro games include pixeljunk raiders, which looks interesting but which has come out of nowhere only a few days ago:

 

 

I'll be interested to give it a go in a couple of days. The trailer doesn't show much variety, which is a concern.

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There's some good information in that Bloomberg article but compared to some of Schreiers other behind the scenes articles it's a bit lacking. I suppose that's a rod he made for his own back with the quality of work he did on the likes of Naughty Dog and Anthem but hopefully we'll get something on a similar level about Stadia at some point. Just how badly did they miss the mark at launch and how many people are using the service now would be the questions I'd like to see answered. 

 

Wired have a decent article up as well highlighting some of the issues that developers ran into trying to make games at Google.

 

https://www.wired.com/story/google-stadia-games-entertainment-collapse/

 

 

I suppose we'll never find out why Google left it so late to ramp up their first party development. They seemed willing to throw tonnes of money at different aspects of Stadia but didn't invest in exclusives. It seems mad that they could look at Microsoft going on their studio buying spree and Sony buying Insomniac and not react in some way. At the very least you'd think they'd see the value in having internal teams working with their Dev tools everyday as a way to improve them. 

 

 

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The thing is, I’m not sure buying exclusives was the right strategy for Google. If they’re going to buy some studios and develop a range of must-have games for a huge launch event, then they may as well have just released a standard, box-under-the-TV console, and the market seems fairly saturated with them. 
 

I reckon they should have gone for a strategy that emphasised the benefits of streaming - no downloads, no patching, unlimited storage space, play on anything that has a screen, etc. Click on an advert, and start playing almost immediately. They should have gotten Activision fully on board, and been able to release (for example) a version of Call of Duty that doesn’t require you to download 20gig patches and doesn’t require you to delete all your other games to play it. Google’s successes aren’t down to them offering things other people don’t, it’s them doing things better and slicker than other people. They should have positioned Stadia as a platform for other people’s games that let you play them in a more convenient way - Destiny 2 with minimal loading times, Cyberpunk with no crashes and 60fps, GTA Online with no hacking and no loading times, etc etc. Instead, they seemed to have gone with a strategy of buying up older single player games more or less at random, like the Tomb Raider games and RDR2. 

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Isn’t that pretty much what they tried to do? It didn’t work - in part because they couldn’t throw enough money around to get all the big names onboard, but that’s not the only reason.

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The problem with that approach is the people who play those games already have consoles or a PC and don't mind downloading things. It's solving a problem that doesn't really exist for its target audience. 

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50 minutes ago, bear said:

There's some good information in that Bloomberg article but compared to some of Schreiers other behind the scenes articles it's a bit lacking.


It’s typical of his articles since he moved to Bloomberg, tbh. They’re a lot thinner and much less well sourced than his earlier work.

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8 minutes ago, Halo said:

Isn’t that pretty much what they tried to do? It didn’t work - in part because they couldn’t throw enough money around to get all the big names onboard, but that’s not the only reason.

Apparently they did have some big names...and then they promptly cancelled the games they were working on. Both Kojima and Yu Suzuki were making Stadia exclusive games - Kojima's was going to be an episodic horror game - but they pulled the plug. Apparently Kojima was pretty pissed. 

 

https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/stadia-was-working-on-savage-planet-2-a-multiplayer-project-and-more/

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They had enough good games imo, what this will always come back to is that it isn’t Gamepass. It doesn’t matter whether you’re streaming, playing local, console, PC, whatever - GP is the current standard and Stadia by comparison looked dated the moment it launched. 

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4 minutes ago, deerokus said:

The problem with that approach is the people who play those games already have consoles or a PC and don't mind downloading things. It's solving a problem that doesn't really exist for its target audience. 


I think people tolerate downloading and patching things, but given a better alternative, they might realise what an absolute ballache it is. We’ve all turned on the console wanting to play a particular game to be faced with a two hour wait for it to download a patch - I’d say that’s a pretty good selling point. I don’t think it’s a foolproof strategy by any means, but streaming has a lot of benefits, and a strategy that leaned into that might have done a lot better. 

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16 minutes ago, Halo said:

Isn’t that pretty much what they tried to do? It didn’t work - in part because they couldn’t throw enough money around to get all the big names onboard, but that’s not the only reason.


I think their strategy was a bit confused, I’m not entirely sure what they were actually going for. Like, they paid big money for RDR2 when it’s primarily a single player game that came out years ago. There is a multiplayer element, but it’s nowhere near as popular as GTA Online (which is what they should have secured for Stadia). They got Activision on board, but ported games like Sekiro rather than, say, Call of Duty. They got EA, but didn’t get Apex Legends. Right publishers, wrong games. 

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2 minutes ago, K said:


I think people tolerate downloading and patching things, but given a better alternative, they might realise what an absolute ballache it is. We’ve all turned on the console wanting to play a particular game to be faced with a two hour wait for it to download a patch - I’d say that’s a pretty good selling point. I don’t think it’s a foolproof strategy by any means, but streaming has a lot of benefits, and a strategy that leaned into that might have done a lot better. 

They are great QOL features, but much like 60fps it’s not on its own much of a selling point. They needed to focus on value first and foremost, and they just didn’t. They expected to use the same model platform holders have been using since the beginning, selling games at full price. I mean that’s fine if you’ve got Breath of The Wild queued up, Halo, Spider-Man etc. But they didn’t have any of that - Christ their launch game, Destiny 2, was free to play anyway on every platform. 

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13 minutes ago, K said:


I think their strategy was a bit confused, I’m not entirely sure what they were actually going for. Like, they paid big money for RDR2 when it’s primarily a single player game that came out years ago. There is a multiplayer element, but it’s nowhere near as popular as GTA Online (which is what they should have secured for Stadia). They got Activision on board, but ported games like Sekiro rather than, say, Call of Duty. They got EA, but didn’t get Apex Legends. Right publishers, wrong games. 

Do you really think they didn’t try to get CoD, FIFA or GTA V? They likely had price tags in the hundreds millions if not billions and deemed not financially viable.

 

Of the NPD’s top 20 best-selling games from last year, the non-exclusives they are missing are CoD x2, Madden, FIFA, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, and Tony Hawk’s.

 

They did get Assassin’s Creed, Avengers, NBA2K, Mortal Kombat and Cyberpunk.

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£20m to Google is like me losing a pound coin down the settee. If they didn’t know the cost of entry to this market that kind of tells you all you need to know about how clued up they are. 

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11 minutes ago, Halo said:

Do you really think they didn’t try to get CoD, FIFA or GTA V? They likely had price tags in the hundreds millions if not billions and deemed not financially viable.

 

Of the NPD’s top 20 best-selling games from last year, the non-exclusives they are missing are CoD x2, Madden, FIFA, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, and Tony Hawk’s.

 

They did get Assassin’s Creed, Avengers, NBA2K, Mortal Kombat and Cyberpunk.


Well, they did get FIFA and Madden - they’re on Stadia now.

 

But do you really think it’d cost hundreds of millions/billions to port Call of Duty to Stadia? They’d be paying for what is essentially a Linux port and some support, not for the rights to the franchise as a whole. I wouldn’t have thought Activision would need that much of an incentive to port a game to a new format, it’s in their interests to get as many people in front of their games as possible, surely? 

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43 minutes ago, Stanley said:

They are great QOL features, but much like 60fps it’s not on its own much of a selling point. They needed to focus on value first and foremost, and they just didn’t. They expected to use the same model platform holders have been using since the beginning, selling games at full price. I mean that’s fine if you’ve got Breath of The Wild queued up, Halo, Spider-Man etc. But they didn’t have any of that - Christ their launch game, Destiny 2, was free to play anyway on every platform. 


Yeah, I agree they needed to change the business model too. But Destiny 2 being free to play works in their favour, I would say. The barrier to entry is pretty low, both in terms of the game and the platform, so it would be easy to get people on board and once you see the QOL improvements, it would be harder to go back to a PS4/ Xbox. 
 

I reckon they should have been giving the controllers and chromecasts away at first, and probably shifted more directly to a subscription model. 

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1 hour ago, K said:

The thing is, I’m not sure buying exclusives was the right strategy for Google. If they’re going to buy some studios and develop a range of must-have games for a huge launch event, then they may as well have just released a standard, box-under-the-TV console, and the market seems fairly saturated with them. 
 

I reckon they should have gone for a strategy that emphasised the benefits of streaming - no downloads, no patching, unlimited storage space, play on anything that has a screen, etc. 

They ended up with a service that basically offered the same experience as those under the TV boxes, just with a worse selection of games. 

 

The big theoretical benefit of ramping up in-house development earlier should have been that they'd build games that could only work on Stadia. I guess it'd be like going back to what MS were promising when they launched the Xboxone and were hyping up the power of the cloud. Deliver on the promise of that GamesCom Crackdown 3 demo with the collapsible buildings or a souped up version of Halo 5s Warzone for instance. 

 

Instead of the pitch being that here's an easier way to play Borderlands 3, why not have it be here's Borderworlds, a game traditional consoles can't offer? 

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8 minutes ago, bear said:

They ended up with a service that basically offered the same experience as those under the TV boxes, just with a worse selection of games. 

 

The big theoretical benefit of ramping up in-house development earlier should have been that they'd build games that could only work on Stadia. I guess it'd be like going back to what MS were promising when they launched the Xboxone and were hyping up the power of the cloud. Deliver on the promise of that GamesCom Crackdown 3 demo with the collapsible buildings or a souped up version of Halo 5s Warzone for instance. 

 

Instead of the pitch being that here's an easier way to play Borderlands 3, why not have it be here's Borderworlds, a game traditional consoles can't offer? 


That would be the ideal scenario, yeah. Not sure what a cloud-only/streaming-only game would look like, though - people have tried, but it’s not really yielded much so far beyond the waves in Sea of Thieves. I suspect exclusives aren’t really a Google thing, and anyway, you’re competing against Halo & Spiderman, which is always going to be tricky. 

 

I still think there’s a potential niche for Borderlands 3 (or Apex Legends or Cyberpunk or  or whatever) in a more convenient format, at better quality than PS4/Xbox, and which doesn’t require you to pay £450 for a next-gen console. Maybe not a huge niche, but certainly more of one than Stadia has at the moment. 

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6 minutes ago, K said:


Well, they did get FIFA and Madden - they’re on Stadia now.

 

But do you really think it’d cost hundreds of millions/billions to port Call of Duty to Stadia? They’d be paying for what is essentially a Linux port and some support, not for the rights to the franchise as a whole. I wouldn’t have thought Activision would need that much of an incentive to port a game to a new format, it’s in their interests to get as many people in front of their games as possible, surely? 

So they’re missing only 4 of the top-selling non-exclusive games of the last year.

 

It shows they’ve tried to get big hitters and that it doesn’t work - you can’t get everything and offering the same as other platforms won’t win people over.

 

I do think Activision would want hundreds of millions. Porting to Stadia offers no value to them (negative value if anything, due to the extra work required in porting to another platform on their incredibly tight timescales) but it potentially has high value to Google, why wouldn’t they ask for huge amounts?

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4 minutes ago, Halo said:

So they’re missing only 4 of the top-selling non-exclusive games of the last year.

 

It shows they’ve tried to get big hitters and that it doesn’t work - you can’t get everything and offering the same as other platforms won’t win people over.

 

I do think Activision would want hundreds of millions. Porting to Stadia offers no value to them (negative value if anything, due to the extra work required in porting to another platform on their incredibly tight timescales) but it potentially has high value to Google, why wouldn’t they ask for huge amounts?


What are the downsides to Activision of Call of Duty being on another format? I can’t see there being much risk to them. I mean, I’m no expert, but hundreds of millions of dollars is the cost of development of the game, it seems highly unlikely that they’d expect Google to pay that much for the rights to stick it on a new platform.

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I wonder if the desire to establish a subscription model ultimately did them more harm than good. What they were offering at launch absolutely wasn't worth a $9.99 subscription as there was a lot of functionality missing and the selection of games was poor. Stuff like how usernames were going to work was put up on a Reddit ama instead of the main site and I'm sure there's a decent amount of people out there who ordered one before launch that were surprised to find that they couldn't get the username they wanted. 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, bear said:

I wonder if the desire to establish a subscription model ultimately did them more harm than good. What they were offering at launch absolutely wasn't worth a $9.99 subscription as there was a lot of functionality missing and the selection of games was poor. Stuff like how usernames were going to work was put up on a Reddit ama instead of the main site and I'm sure there's a decent amount of people out there who ordered one before launch that were surprised to find that they couldn't get the username they wanted. 

 

 


It was this weird hybrid of a subscription service where you also had to buy games. It feels a bit like there were competing parties in Stadia, which led to this odd hybrid model that nobody really liked. 

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31 minutes ago, K said:


What are the downsides to Activision of Call of Duty being on another format? I can’t see there being much risk to them. I mean, I’m no expert, but hundreds of millions of dollars is the cost of development of the game, it seems highly unlikely that they’d expect Google to pay that much for the rights to stick it on a new platform.

They have to develop and support another format for very little upside and it’s not just about cost but also ensuring you’re maximising the value of the asset (think about it akin to SVoD - licensing out old TV shows/films to different platforms costs the owner nothing, but that doesn’t mean every TV show/film appears on every platform does it?).

 

Either way, I think it’s reasonable to assume Google has talked to Activision about CoD and it was a price above what they were willing to pay, and that the offer would have been significantly more than the $20m they paid Ubisoft for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey/The Division and the $10m they paid Capcom for RE7/8 (both of which are known).

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51 minutes ago, K said:


Yeah, I agree they needed to change the business model too. But Destiny 2 being free to play works in their favour, I would say. The barrier to entry is pretty low, both in terms of the game and the platform, so it would be easy to get people on board and once you see the QOL improvements, it would be harder to go back to a PS4/ Xbox. 
 

I reckon they should have been giving the controllers and chromecasts away at first, and probably shifted more directly to a subscription model. 

The problem is that they launched as the PS4 and Xbox One were approaching the end of their cycle, so near market saturation, and anyone who wanted to play Destiny 2 could do so I’d imagine, they followed that up with RDR2, another game that had been on the market some time.
 

Had they waited a year and launched with Cyber Punk it might have been a different story - but it felt at that point like all their marketing and focus was already spent, this was then followed by key figures leaving and development being shut down.
 

Tbh I have no idea what exactly they thought would happen launching the way they did with no games, no subscription of any worth, and all of the distinct key features missing. 

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We've discussed this several times before in this thread, but it's not true to say that Destiny 2 as offered by the Stadia Pro deal at launch 'was free to play anyway on every platform'. In fact it wasn't free to play on any - there was a New Light version that was free, but that lacked:

  • the Forsaken expansion and its further DLC
  • the then-current year's Shadowkeep expansion and all four of that year's season passes

And at the time that was the previous full year's content and the coming year's. These two years' worth of content represented some of the best of the game - and what most people were currently playing - and would have cost you between £50-60 if you bought them on any other platform; the bundle was included at no extra cost as part of the Stadia Pro sub. Which, funnily enough, is what Cyberpunk would have cost if you bought it elsewhere. Now, you might prefer the Cyberpunk deal, but as a cash offering it has the same value as their D2 launch deal - as well as offering things that consoles couldn't compete with (as K says, 60fps, no downloads/patches, etc).

 

I mean, take the non-cash value of that as you will, but no matter how many times you say what Stadia offered was 'free to play on every other platform' it won't make it true. We established this long ago, so I don't know why you've taken to claiming it again.

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27 minutes ago, Halo said:

They have to develop and support another format for very little upside and it’s not just about cost but also ensuring you’re maximising the value of the asset (think about it akin to SVoD - licensing out old TV shows/films to different platforms costs the owner nothing, but that doesn’t mean every TV show/film appears on every platform does it?).

 

Either way, I think it’s reasonable to assume Google has talked to Activision about CoD and it was a price above what they were willing to pay, and that the offer would have been significantly more than the $20m they paid Ubisoft for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey/The Division and the $10m they paid Capcom for RE7/8 (both of which are known).


Well, yeah. There must be some reason why they didn’t manage to land Call of Duty - I struggle to imagine that they didn’t at least discuss it. I just think the nine figure estimate is a bit high. 

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So when Stadia was announced and we were having those arguments about who it was meant to be for and what it was, Google was also trying to figure out what it was and who it was for? Did they think they could just wing it and decide after it left beta?

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40 minutes ago, Gorf King said:

We've discussed this several times before in this thread, but it's not true to say that Destiny 2 as offered by the Stadia Pro deal at launch 'was free to play anyway on every platform’.

The implication is that people are being disingenuous instead of basically nobody outside of the core player base actually understanding Destiny 2’s ever-changing business model (or the game’s bafflingly unnecessary complexity for that matter).

 

(You buy the game! Pay for expansions! The core game is F2P just pay for expansions! Expansions are now standalone! The original campaign is buried so it’s hard to find! We’ve removed basically all the original game that we made F2P! You can pay for a season pass!)

 

Couple that with Stadia’s own tiered model and is it any wonder people get confused?

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16 minutes ago, Alex W. said:

Did they think they could just wing it and decide after it left beta?

Isn’t that the way that Google generally develop stuff? Release something in beta and then figure everything out. Problem is that Phil Harrison treated the beta launch for some tech as being the same as launching a new console.

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8 minutes ago, Halo said:

The implication is that people are being disingenuous instead of basically nobody outside of the core player base actually understanding Destiny 2’s ever-changing business model (or the game’s bafflingly unnecessary complexity for that matter).

 

(You buy the game! Pay for expansions! The core game is F2P just pay for expansions! Expansions are now standalone! The original campaign is buried so it’s hard to find! We’ve removed basically all the original game that we made F2P! You can pay for a season pass!)

 

After it's been explained to them several times, you mean? Are you saying you and Stanley do not understand what I wrote? I assume Stanley does, as it was explained over a year ago, so continuing to claim that the content Stadia offered was free on all platforms does seem a little disingenuous, now that you mention it, unless you found my post bafflingly unnecessarily complex and you're still scratching your head over the concept that expansions and other DLC can cost money to buy.

 

(But let me add some hyperbole! Here's my list of non-sequiturs! I don't know why I'm exclaiming so much, I have nothing really to add! I guess I just like exclamation marks!)

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  • footle changed the title to Google Stadia - “now you can add Ubisoft+, if you’re missing tower climbing in your life”

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