A little over a week on from Stadia’s launch and where are we? Sales figures have not been revealed, but anonymous insiders have all but confirmed – without any way to confirm this, of course, so take it with a pinch of salt – that Stadia’s pre-orders were below expectations; reporting this was Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who goes on to say that the launch looks like it’s already a ‘monumental flop.
Even Google’s most visible and recognisable executive – VP and GM Phil Harrison, who has had notable stints at Sony, Microsoft and Atari – seems to have gone completely AWOL on Twitter; his last tweets were the day before Stadia launched. Very telling indeed.
Aside from the lower than expected pre-orders and muted nature of the launch itself, Stadia has been plagued with issues that really shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Even with the (limited, admittedly, considering the streaming nature of the service) hardware in hand, user accounts had to be activated by a code sent to Stadia owners by Google. It seems that delays to these meant that many people missed out on trying Stadia out for a significant amount of time, with early adopters venting their frustration on social media at a point when Stadia could really have used some hype and enthusiasm.
Early reviews didn’t help, with many critics – and consumers – dealing with lag, lower than promised resolutions and lots of missing features. That said, it has definitely been noted that when it works, it feels nothing short of magical. I have seen footage of Stadia in action and working; I must admit that it’s really impressive when it does do what it’s supposed to. The highest profile person I’ve seen for whom Stadia is working as intended is Paul Rose, aka Digitiser’s Mr Biffo (and he makes some great points about it in the review linked to via his tweet, handily posted here!).
The launch lineup was almost doubled overnight too, at the last minute (pretty much) before launch, showing that Google can throw resources at Stadia to buff it up when they need to (as you’d expect, for a corporate behemoth like Google). There’s still an allure to the concept, with promises – even if they haven’t been kept yet – of gaming anywhere, on near enough any device regardless of its horsepower, being incredibly attractive indeed.
Which is great! I want more of this. I want there to be more competition in the gaming space and this sort of disruption could well be what the doctor ordered. It’s hard not to get the impression that Google have bungled Stadia in some really key areas though, and it’s going to take a lot of work to restore confidence, particularly amongst jaded gamers who have been burned by digital-only offerings before. With games at the right price, less confused messaging about what Stadia actually offers (especially its confusing Pro subscription) and more of the promised features, Stadia may yet have a long future ahead of it. Google need to be willing to support it and push it through the troublesome launch phase, however; given their past track record with dropping huge projects the moment they start to fail, I am concerned that Stadia won’t be given the chance it deserves.
Have any of you had a chance to get your hands on Stadia yet? I’m really interested in hearing about your experience with it, good or bad. Let me know in the comments below!
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