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Stadia Status, February 2021: One step forward and three steps back

Google Stadia Controller Logo Background
Google Stadia Controller Logo Background (Image credit: Google)

Comparing how I feel about Stadia right now to how I felt at the end of 2020 / beginning of 2021 is giving me a serious case of whiplash. In my Stadia 2021 review to kick off this year I explained how the cloud gaming service was "finally worth it" and that it was "starting to prove itself as a legitimate gaming platform." I felt really good about those statements at the time I wrote them.

Stadia Status is our monthly recap of what's new and what's next for the Stadia platform. Let's dive in!

Stadia Status February 2021 Recap

Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Stadia

Source: David Jagneaux / Android Central (Image credit: Source: David Jagneaux / Android Central)

If Stadia wasn't on life support yet, we've got to assume it's getting dangerously close. Despite major success stories such as many of the best Stadia games releasing recently like the comparatively excellent version of Cyberpunk 2077, great ports of games like Hitman 3 and Madden NFL 21, and upcoming big releases like Outriders slated to launch on the same day and date as other platforms, it's impossible to not look towards the future with major trepidation.

Unfortunately, the goodwill from those games isn't enough to overshadow the recent negativity. As you probably heard, Google shut down the entire Stadia Games & Entertainment division, canceled exclusive game projects, experienced horrendous leadership and poor budgeting, got hit with lawsuits, and generally saw everything go about as poorly as you could predict.

Even if you ignore all of those extremely negative things that have happened though, which would be very irresponsible to do, it hasn't been a great month for Stadia on the game release front, either. Just like January, February was a slow month for Stadia. Other than a few surprise Pro games and an assortment of new releases to tide people over, there hasn't been anything big enough to dominate the conversation beyond other headlines.

Stadia Status March 2021 and beyond

Fifa 21 Soccer Screenshot

Source: EA (Image credit: Source: EA)

According to Google, over 100 games are on the way for the remainder of 2021. That's a lot of games and, based on the existing library of content, it stands to reason that the majority of these games will be quite good. But following that same line of reasoning, it also stands to reason that the majority of these games will release on other platforms as well and/or will be old by the time they hit Stadia.

Getting a high volume of quality content has never been the issue for Stadia. The issue is that most of it is old by the time it comes out on the cloud gaming service, so people have already played those games or they're old enough that asking new game prices feels unreasonable. Playing catch-up against the PC gaming ecosystem and the decades of lead time Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all have is proving to be tougher than Google expected.

One of the best ways to combat these issues would have been investing in original, exclusive content that would sell the platform out of a desire to play what you can't get anywhere else. It works for Nintendo with Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, and it's working for Sony, too. Even Microsoft is realizing the power of funding its own exclusive properties, but the company is letting the studios spend years to incubate and create great new games. As a result, Google's most poignant failures have been a lack of patience and foresight.

It's a tough spot to be in, but all is not lost. PixelJunk Raiders is hitting as a Stadia exclusive and brings a popular, respected IP to the platform with a brand new entry you can't try anywhere else. Plus, it'll be a Stadia Pro game. And new releases like Little Nightmare 2 are legitimately amazing games that everyone should give a try, so having access to a game like that, via Stadia Pro, is great for gamers of all types. Roblox-style world-building game Crayta going free for everyone is great too, but Stadia needs big free games like Roblox or Call of Duty Warzone if it wants to actually be taken seriously.

I'm just not sure that's enough. History has proven time and time again that software sells hardware and if Google doesn't pad out its library with big, enticing exclusives that you can't play elsewhere, or at least secure more big third-party games at the same time they release elsewhere, I'm not sure Stadia makes it another year.

7 Comments
  • You guys manufacturting it's demise, that's the problem. They decided to shut down their home grown games department and focus more of the resources on other areas of the platform but.. YOU in the blogospheres' decided that they are shutting down Stadia. Thus creating FUD among consumers. YOU GUYS are creating your own self fulfilling prophecy. Just report the news not your judgment and mayber it could actually be successful.
  • Unfortunately Google has earned it's reputation of building something up just to tear it down, so to speculate it's demise isn't unfounded. Yes, it certainly doesn't help them to speculate its demise, but it's fair not to trust Google to support it long term. I just had to throw out my Google Daydream headset last week... That lasted a whole 4 years before they abandoned that platform...
  • Google shuts down projects that aren't taking off or have been caniblized by other services etc. That's what a good company should do, if the product or service doesn't have an adequate market share , then you are only wasting money when it could be better spent elsewhere. When a product is good or has good enough traction then it's support is solid, Chromecast, Chromebooks, Android, G service software (gmail, docs, calender, Photos etc)
    As far as DayDream, I think that's less google and more the VR industry itself. It's still try to find it way even after all these years. Occulus is still trying to pull out all the stops, but it's still not there yet in terms of mass market appeal. My point is if Stadia gains some solid traction , and judging by the improvements Google has made in the past year, we could be looking at something special. But if FUD by bloggers is hell bent on determining it's fate and consumers buy into their fear mongering, then yes they'll have no choice but to abandon it. Just let the market play itself out instead of trying to steer through doom and gloom blogs.
  • I do see your point that the author and website are sharing their FUD and possibly creating more of it, but people already have it without seeing it spewed across the internet. It's hard to say if these articles will really be the downfall of the service, but I agree it doesn't help the service either.
  • The only reason I use Stadia is because of Red Dead Redemption 2. It needs a powerful computer that I don't have, so I play it on Stadia. No other game streaming platform offers RDR2. Unfortunately, it skips and stutters with dropped frames and lost packets even though I have over 60Gbps internet speed.
  • Lol. Who had faith in it to begin with? Google has core products: Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, and Maps. If you aren’t one of those, you can’t expect it to last forever. Period. Stadia is Google at its most Googlely.... If we ever want to see Google challenge Apple, they would have to change their entire work ethic and culture, as well as how they approach products. These efforts can’t be hobbies. You need to stick a product and evolve it by fixing the flaws. Google is going to evolve Stadia a few iterations, change the name, create a competing product that’s both the same and different, and then kill it off. It’s Googles M.O.
  • 2021 will be the last year of Stadia.