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Stadia’s VP and head of product leaves Google (arstechnica.com)
110 points by leephillips 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments

Surely someone in Alphabets leadership understands the damage Google is doing to their brand by only giving projects a few months to "make it big" before pulling the rug out? Look at all the developers who post on here who will not use GCP because of the fear of Google removing or dropping support for important features with no warning!

Are they already pulling out the rug? Seems like the investment they made so far in terms of time, money, hiring must have been massive.

If they are killing stadia, that does maybe show that Google lacks "grit". The way they killed Google Plus was kind of stupid. They could have adjusted the formula and made it better, but instead they just gave up on it, it seems. It's like Google doesn't understand that it's normal not to have instant success? Maybe they should make a more active decision that here is a market segment they want to enter, and keep working at it, instead of just trying random things and giving up.

They've killed off their in house game studio.

The VP of Stadia is leaving.

They recently (a few months ago before killing their studio) had a major "Sign up for stadia trial to get a free stadia controller and chromecast ultra" deal.

Sounds a lot like inventory liquidation, flagging adoption and them giving up.

It can take years to be an overnight success but they seem to have lost that vision.

> It can take years to be an overnight success but they seem to have lost that vision.

Per other commenters on HN over the years, the Goog has a culture where you can only get promoted if you launch a product. If that is true, then the point of Stadia wasn't success for Big-G, it was a promotion (or a set of them) for some people. Retiring Stadia quickly then makes sense, as it saves money to get rid of the promotion vehicle quickly.

I mean, you could also see that as a pivot with a new type of product, as they see which market actually uses it.

I along with others questioned why they were targeting hardcore gamers (who already have consoles and PCs) right out of the gates when the value it offers is to a more casual market.

> I along with others questioned why they were targeting hardcore gamers

They didn't seem to know why they did anything with this product. Apparently they offered laughably low sums of money to developer studios for porting games to the Stadia platform (Google permabanning the Terraria developer's account while they were working on a Stadia port didn't boost the popularity either[0]), launched the thing pretending it's a finished product while beta versions of competitors were more stable, lied to consumers (4k resolution etc.), and had a pricing model that anyone familiar with the gaming market would have recognised as overly optimistic beforehand.

Google shutting down products quickly is a problem, but not the one which prevented Stadia's success in the first place.

[0] https://twitter.com/Demilogic/status/1358661840402845696

> Apparently they offered laughably low sums of money to developer studios for porting games to the Stadia platform

The reporting from Jason Schreier is that they were paying tens of millions of dollars per game for ports of AAA games. The data from the Capcom hack corraborates that. That is the opposite of laughably small.


Just a few AAA games that already exist on most other platforms won't attract many though, especially if people have to pay full price for them individually without any trust that those games will still be accessible in a few years. Even less so after Google already broke promises on the first day to a degree they might face a class action lawsuit.

Indie games and other smaller projects are also relevant to many, and there Google's offers were apparently so unattractive studios just dismissed them.

There's a reason Google has to pay tens of millions to large studios while MS or Sony rarely do aside from exclusivity deals. The tendency to shut down products on such a regular basis killed any trust in Google supporting anything other than their ads and tracking; gamers don't know if Stadia will just disappear overnight with their games, studios don't know if they'll ever get their investment back, even if the service continues to run.

> "Usually with that kind of thing, they lead with some kind of offer that would give you an incentive to go with them." But the incentive "was kind of non-existent,"


Compared to the hundreds of millions the Epic Game Store spent to get exclusives, tens of millions is still very small.

This is tens of millions *per game*. Not in total. Epic did notn pay hundreds of millions for any exclusive.

But in addition to that, these are totally different cases and deal structures. Epic was giving minimum revenue guarantees, which they needed to do to offset the lost revenue from other platforms.

Stadia was paying for ports, not for exclusivity. The publishers did not lose the opportunity to sell the games on Steam. (And they were paying it outright, not as an advance.)

Seriously people. These are eye-popping amounts to pay for a port. Whatever the many product and business failures of Stadia were, an unwillingness to pay developers was not among those failures.

"Buy a game, get free hardware" is back for Resident Evil.


That's how I got a steam controller I intended to use for kodi/xbmc but it's not easy enough for me yet. I'll give a stadia controller a try :].

Not officially _yet_ but between the VP leaving and some other signs, it does appear that Stadia isn't likely to last a ton longer.

What will happen to all the "purchases" people made?

My immediate thought when Stadia was announced was "I'm never buying games at full price from Google if they are dependent on a service not being cancelled"

I think the service is amazing and I even pay for GeforceNow and did a Stadia trial. There's no way I was going to spend a dime on content or hardware. It was just too likey to be killed off. By contrast I've spent tons of money on Steam and Oculus stores, so I have no problem buying digital content from a company I have confidence in. Google has seriously hurt their brand and I am always concerned they're going to pull the rug out from me on the ancillary G products I use. Many companies sunset products, but Google has an absolute knack for destroying my consumer confidence.

This is the whole reason why I absolutely refused to buy a single game on Stadia while I was subscribed. I simply redeemed my free games every month. I was willing to pay $9 every month or whatever and get a couple of games that may or may not have been worth that much, but no way am I dropping $60 on a game when I know the entire service might disappear next year (given Google's track record).

Same - if it were a subscription service I may have tried it out. But knowing how these digital services tend to go and how quickly Google kills its services I was never going to “buy” a game from them.

At this point, I'm worried that the service wont be around for when my pre-order of baldur's gate 3 goes live.

I'm a stadia subscriber, so I've been hearing this forever. It may be true, but given the number of games they've launched recently, the Stadia Makers program, etc. it seems they're chugging along just fine.

FWIW, I do expect Stadia to be canned at some point, I just don't think it's in the next year or two.

It's part Google's shitty product culture, but also part insurmountable technological barriers.

Streaming games is not going to reach mainstream adoption because the latency of the Internet is too large. There's no coding around that. Barring some new material that allows light to travel faster through it, game streaming just isn't happening.

At least in the united states, the majority of people are in urban centers. Additionally the market for games skews young, just like the populations of urban centers. The vast majority of people in the united states are within 2 light-milliseconds (372 miles) of some urban area, and data centers are generally located in places with good connectivity to urban areas.

I don't think latency is as big an issue for streaming gaming as you think.

Right but if your games only work great in urban centers, don't launch your games outside of that. Part of the problem with Stadia was the hubris they had at launch as shown through their marketing and pricing of the product. They came out like this was an A+ product when it was in fact a C product.

If Stadia had come out slowly with a few key indie games, closed beta, natural growth, and humility, they wouldn't have an ounce of the vitriol they've received.

Having used my PS4's remote play a handful of times to stream play games while I'm on the other side of town using my own unremarkable consumer grade networking on both ends, it can work surprisingly well for many types of games. How many people notice the difference in input lag between playing on a monitor vs TV's game mode vs TV's normal mode? Those tend to increase latency more than the latency of streaming from one side of the city to the other.

That being said, Google picked quite possibly the worst lineup of games for showcasing streaming play. They were mostly action/adventure and fighting games, which are extremely sensitive to input lag. They should've gone with RPGs, strategy, and sim games which really don't mind the latency. But I guess that's just classic Google not understanding the market they're trying to enter.

This has nothing to do with latency and everything to do with price.

I have a gaming PC but it's stationary. I'd much rather use stadia on my Android TV device or whatever to grab a controller and go. I got the trial and it does work.

But having to pay full price for games I already own? Forget it. If the subscription had higher quality content I would use that, but it's just mostly old titles.

It's stupid because Google could have thrown money at this thing to subsidize subscription titles, or worked out some way for me to play stuff I already bought for another platform without paying MSRP again, and in either case I would have used it.

Stadia has no selling point. Pay MSRP and get the rights to stream a game from Google (only for as long as the service lasts?) No thanks!

If you live in a major city (i.e. close to a datacenter) the latency is perfectly playable. Especially when you consider that the market for Stadia is not counterstrike pros who care about every millisecond.

I really believe that the reason Stadia hasn't taken off yet is the limited game selection, and non-existent marketing. Technically it's really good, but there's only like 3 games on there that I have even a vague interest in playing.

Everyone hates epic for buying out exclusive rights for a bunch of games, but it's certainly a strategy that has worked out for them. The Epic store is now a genuine competitor to Steam.

One thing google does pretty well is performance monitoring. They have loads and loads of clients connected to their services and they know exactly the performance they’re getting.

Another thing google is good at is building data centers. They have them all over the place and they’re building more.

Stadia works acceptably even on low tier consumer cable internet connections. The biggest issue is usually weak or noisy wifi but even then it's surprisingly robust.

I don't know what it's costing them to do that, but in terms of technical capability it's there.

>Streaming games is not going to reach mainstream adoption because the latency of the Internet is too large

Im not sure i agree with that. We already deal with latency while playing games like CS:GO and others. They are already making the roundtrip and are playable. I think it's more of a bandwidth issue of being able to send enough "raw" screen data instead of game scenario deltas.

Maybe. Maybe a bunch of people tried the game made at their studio, and it was bad. And if the first 1,000 enthusiasts used to trying new stuff don't like your game, the next 1,000,000 people aren't going to like it either.

It's better for these people's careers to shutdown immediately and move onto something else, before you release something crummy. Isn't that what startups do anyway?

That's all fine and good when you are a company that merely provides a service, but it's a little different when you are selling actual software and games for $60 a pop that will evaporate into thin air if you shut down.

Imagine if you bought a car from a dealership and the car stopped working when the dealership went out of business. Nobody would accept that as being OK!

Interestingly they are spending extra time on self driving tech with Waymo. I wonder if Google has a culture of taking ‘serious tech’ more seriously than say ... video games, and certainly over social.

Waymo has certainly been given a lot of latitude especially as fully autonomous has gone from "right around the corner" in the minds of many (admittedly in part because of what organizations like Waymo were saying) to something that may not be fully achieved for a long time.

I hear this from time to time, but how many people are actually choosing not to use GCP for that reason? Yes, Google keeps killing consumer products (Hangouts is reportedly getting the axe…), but Google Cloud seems to have a much more stable set of services, especially when you look at the core. Things like App Engine have been around forever.

Surely Google treats their B2B products and B2C products differently, no?

> Surely Google treats their B2B products and B2C products differently, no?

Apparently not:


It's no different than choosing a B2C startup for your company, and then having them go out of business.

There are certain core services that I would expect Google to maintain, and others are gambles. It's important to know which is which.

I'd say the fact that Google is the "0 support or human interaction, ever, once you need help with anything, forget it" company does not help either.

When it comes to their paid products I hear mixed reports in my circles, some claim that they have good experiences with it. But ultimately the question is: Why risk it?

Virtually anyone who is using google cloud to run their business is surely paying for access to real human interaction. This costs as little as $100/mo for basic support all the way up to dedicated support.

I agree with your pout for consumer, but GP is talking about b2b cloud, where google behaves very differently than their general “no there is no customer support” behavior.

Google Brass Set 2023 as Deadline to Beat Amazon, Microsoft in Cloud.

The Google unit, which sells computing services to big companies, is under pressure from top management to pass Amazon or Microsoft — currently first and second, respectively, in cloud market share — or risk losing funding.

Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21815260

Read the top comment—the fact that they are setting deadlines & performance goals does not mean that services are getting shut down.

But it raises the question in people’s minds. If you are building your company on a cloud platform why would you risk GCP after seeing that?

Hangouts is now read-only for messages to/from phone numbers (as of December 2020 iirc), but you can still message people who are signed in to chat on Gmail. Effectively axed.

I try to isolate and minimize dependencies on Google due to their habit of abruptly banning entire accounts because one of their bots thinks it spotted something slightly odd on a single service that account is using. It's absolutely part of my risk-assessment at work, when selecting which services to use. Their fickle approach to services that aren't ads or search is just part of the problem.

> Surely Google treats their B2B products and B2C products differently, no?

Not differently enough, and I'm not directing enough of our services spending to Google to find out if that gets us over the line where they won't shit all over us without at least giving us a heads-up. Maybe it would be, maybe not, but why risk it when most of what they offer is far from unique and not much better-priced than alternatives, if at all.

I have heard anecdotes of them linking accounts together and banning them all at once if one of the algorithms deems you unworthy.

Unless you are really splitting them, by using a different IP and browser characteristics for each of them... But then you are very likely to have them banned separately, due to suspicious behavior.

Part of the trouble here is that the Google brand spans their B2B and B2C offerings.

I think of all of Google that's not Search & Ads as "side projects" that they do kind of like a hobby.

They'd like for them to succeed, but it's nowhere near the focus an org that lives or dies by the project has.

So if gaming proves harder than expected, they move on to other fun things.

With the way apple is leaning in terms of making life harder on advertisers, if they were to release a value phone ($200) with all their consumer privacy protections soon after a revelation in the news about how pervasive advertising companies are / how much they know about you, I wonder if it would make a dent in google's only real line of business.

I'm probably projecting too much of my own privacy-mindedness onto the general populace, though.

Well said! In contrast to Apple which gives its projects time. Apple Arcade is growing slowly but surely. People who have kids don't mind signing up for it because it makes sense.

Apple can iterate on Arcade with their now impressive chip design advantage. They can come to the consoles market at some point. I personally use my Xbox only for FIFA. It's a game that can probably run on M1 with no problem. I don't mind not spending $500 for my next console and have access to my FIFA on my iPhone and Mac

Surely they don’t or they wouldn’t have developed this reputation in the first place.

Google grew into the incoherent American corporation long ago and is totally beyond salvaging. Unfortunately their inertia will let them keep steamrolling over people for another century just like GE does.

Stadia was terribly implemented -- almost nothing appealed to gamers from the pricing to the games -- I can't think of a single killer game. I recall it being originally annouced thinking Google -- like Apple -- don't get gaming and probably never will.

It's classic -- we're big -- so we have a chance thinking we just need time to make it work. Stadia would have been much better implemented by startups. Google simply can't do "small" anymore. To be fair they're just too big.

Microsoft is the only FANG that remotely gets gaming.

I've been playing with both Stadia and Xcloud. Stadia definitely has Xcloud beat on technical merits - load times, streaming quality etc.

BUT, their pricing is too high and the library is tiny. The value you get from the Xbox Gamepass Ultimate is absurd for $15 a month - the library is huge, including stuff like the EA Sports games. And you have the choice of installing locally if you want instead of streaming.

I just hope Microsoft is taking some notes on the streaming performance and load times of Stadia, because it really does make a huge difference in my ability to just pick up and play.

Maybe Stadia is just extremely location-dependent, but when I tried both services via a (very stable) VPN, xCloud felt a lot smoother and with less latency (when comparing the same geo region). Both were worse than GeForce Now though (which doesn't require a VPN but around the same latency).

They're also adding xCloud support for your purchased games at some point[1], a bit like Geforce Experience's Steam-linking but for Xbox owners.

1: https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2019/11/14/expanding-project-xcl...

In my experience, GeForceNow was even better image quality than Stadia. I'm a paid subscriber and I enjoy the heck out of it. It also works with your existing games from Steam and other major digital storefronts.

As I understand it there are several publishers not allowing games to work on GFN (but I too love the service when I trialed it)

100% squandered the opportunity. The question is, it is too late to pivot or push through?

Back when Project Stream was announced (late 2018), Google was the lone player. COVID19 essentially gave a perfect opportunity to gain market share. But somehow they failed to capitalize and today, it's become a crowded playing field with XCloud, GeForce Now, Luna; not to mention a new gen of gaming consoles. The streaming tech is no longer a unique advantage for Stadia and unfortunately it's gaming library is just an also-ran.

Perhaps this resignation/firing is an attempt to refocus the business rather than the "boiling the ocean" approach of game development, 1st class integration to other Google services (e.g. YouTube live streaming), etc. Who's next on the chopping block? Phil Harrison or even his boss, Rick Osterloh?

My impression was that it was conceptually flawed. It made commitments on performance that seemed naive, and did not solve a significant problem many gamers were having.

As a gamer, I enjoy having a high-performant system, and am ok paying for it. If, as a kid, I couldn't afford it, I would just play on console.

The idea behind centralized GPU rendering was just a recipe for lag, high data usage, and content lock-in.

It just never made sense to me.

Have you tried it?

After seeing how well it works, I don’t know why I would buy a $600 console or $1000 gaming PC anymore.

Cyberpunk probably should've been that game, in the sense that it ran like shit, in the middle of a huge GPU drought, but it wasn't very good.

I want to know what games the "cyberpunk wasn't good" crowd is playing instead that scratch the same itch. At this point it just seems like a throwaway line from people who don't like the kind of game it is, and haven't played it for any meaningful amount of time.

It has significant flaws, but there is also a lot to like about it.

Well what kind of game is it then?

The world feels totally dead, so it doesn't scratch any itch of mine like a GTA game does. The world is pretty, yes, but it doesn't feel alive, and the poor mechanics make it hard to cover that gap. If they'd nailed the gameplay loop I would at very least approach it like the way I approach most Assassin's creed games, basically a historical-experience to wander around in.

The actual story, meh, not great not terrible. I already didn't rate Keanu Reeves very highly, in this game I thought he sounded positively comatose, which further put me off what I thought was a fairly uninspired experience. I was excited at the beginnings of the story, specifically I was interested in a depiction of the corpo side of things, but this was not to be.

As an RPG? Fallout New Vegas set the bar 11 years ago now.

All in all, I didn't like it very much, however I wouldn't have bothered to write this if I didn't want it to be good. There are so many little details and niggles, that are half-done that could've made it a masterpiece.

> The world feels totally dead, so it doesn't scratch any itch of mine like a GTA game does. The world is pretty, yes, but it doesn't feel alive, and the poor mechanics make it hard to cover that gap. If they'd nailed the gameplay loop I would at very least approach it like the way I approach most Assassin's creed games, basically a historical-experience to wander around in.

I must have missed the GTA game where the world "feels alive" in a way CP77's doesn't. They obviously have more fleshed-out systems (more interesting NPC drivers, wanted levels, etc.)—and they'd better, since they've been making open-world city games for over two decades IIRC—but for me those worlds always failed to feel lived-in. I actually remember remarking to a friend how much more alive and lived-in the CP77 world felt to me than GTA games, which I put down to the level of detail in the art.

I guess I'm over being impressed by scripted NPC activities (e.g. coach robberies in RDR) because they don't do anything for me narratively and in interacting with them they tend to draw attention to just how shallow the game world is compared to the real thing. CP77 is definitely light on this sort of thing, and that's a fair criticism, but it's also not one everybody is going to care about.

It also helps if you don't constantly butt your head up against the limitations of the game. I can't read the incessant whining about the wanted system being underdeveloped without rolling my eyes and thinking dude, it is what it is, enjoy the game for its strengths or put it down and walk away.

This is, of course, subjective. Different people like different things about games. But I see these same complaints echoed ad nauseam in pretty much the exact same form that I can't help but think there's an echo chamber effect at work.

> I was excited at the beginnings of the story, specifically I was interested in a depiction of the corpo side of things, but this was not to be.

See also: not being interested in the kind of game it is.

Given the general standards of modern AAA video game storytelling, I don't really know how else to read this. I didn't go in with any particular expectations, but I wasn't disappointed.

> As an RPG? Fallout New Vegas set the bar 11 years ago now.

Yes, 11 years ago, and I think people look back on it with rose-tinted glasses. It is not the next-gen paradigm shift people seem to have been expecting out of CP77. CDPR was obviously trying to balance a lot of competing ambitions, and the result of that is a game that's necessarily quite different from New Vegas.

People who want to play New Vegas forever should go play New Vegas forever. I hear it has an active modding community.

Stadia and Geforce now were the only platforms that Cyberpunk ran great on when the game launched. Geforce customers had to wait in queue for a server so Stadia came out on top.

Unfortunately, very few people know about it and Stadia didn't capitalize on marketing on the situation.

yeah, it's a weird complete lack of ambition from google which I kinda didn't expect. Like, can they not see the potential of building this type of gaming tech into youtube? Maybe even behind youtube premium to begin with.

There's a ton of fascinating things they could've done with it that they certainly have the money to do but instead they launched what they did which was compelling to no one at all?

I think Facebook gets gaming too

They probably do, but I wouldn't use a Facebook VR/AR headset if they paid me to take it due to massive privacy concerns, and the company's appalling security record.

I remember when Facebook bought Oculus, some joked that they'll have to login to FB to use it, and hardcore VR fans scoffed at it and called them paranoid.

And then FB did exactly that couple years later...

In what way does Microsoft get gaming? They have tried to shoehorn their “Live” service into games for years and have utterly failed at that. The only reason gaming is big on Windows is because everyone has Windows, it’s a chicken and egg situation, it’s not due to some genius move by Microsoft.

Did you forget about the Xbox?

It's arguable that gaming really didn't reach mainstream in a big way until the Xbox and Halo. The PS2 was a very successful system but it didn't cause the same kind of culture shift that the OG Xbox did.

In the US maybe. In the rest of the world, the PS2 had more than 10x more sales and most of the best games of the generation. The real disruption from Microsoft came with the 360 against the PS3.

Even in the US the original XBox was still at best 'neck and neck' with the PS2, at least from my recollection. The PS2 came out sooner and didn't need anything extra for DVD Playback which helped sales a ton.

Important takeaway though is Microsoft didn't give up even though the first XBox as a whole was a loss for them AFAIR.

Their ‘live’ service was something they have been working on for over a decade with the Xbox. It’s finally all coming together now with the digital only consoles.

MS gets gaming believe it or not. Windows has no competitors on PC, sure, but MS has competitors in the console and platform space that they are doing well against.

I don't know if I'd call the Microsoft competing "well" against Sony when the PS4 outsold the Xbox One more than 2:1. I think it was this that MS finally realized they need to leverage PC gaming (after neglecting it for years) if they want to rule gaming. I do believe they now are poised to win this generation though with the unification of Xbox and PC.

I think that anecdote evens out with the fact that both the 360 and Wii sold as well or better than the PS3. The successor of the PS2 can’t fumble like that. In the grand scheme of things, the console wars have left all the companies involved within striking distance of each other.

What does digital only mean?

It means, there is no Xbox. There is only a box that logs you into Microsoft’s platform, and you will pay them for everything.

I am so glad that Stadia is floundering, if not failing. It's one of the worst things I've seen in the industry for consumers regarding consumer rights and freedom, and it's any publisher's wet dream. Imagine a platform where users can't mod in their own content or modify (or even improve) the experience in any way. They can go nuts with DLC and microtransactions. They can ensure we only get the experience they decide on. It's a nightmare for consumers and I hope it never gets off the ground.

> Imagine a platform where users can't mod in their own content or modify (or even improve) the experience in any way.

I don’t like Stadia, but doesn’t this describe most if not all major consoles?

Every console was hacked to allow mods. e.g. the smash bros community built mods such as Project M for the modded gamecube and Wii, and even mods of smash ultimate for the Switch.

Nothing is preventing anyone from hacking Stadia either, but the percentage of people who jail break their consoles is really low due to the complexity (most aren't techies), the amount of work involved, and because online multiplayer will most likely no longer work long term; or in Stadia's case - you can no longer access your games.

I feel the parent comment was referring to PC gaming, where you don't need to do anything crazy to customize the games that you paid for.

Stadia's death doesn't mean the death of game streaming. There's other competition in that area on the market (GeForce Now, XCloud, PS Now), and unfortunately it seems pretty much inevitable at this point (as much as I also hate the idea of it)

But I can at least say I'm glad Google isn't getting a foothold in yet another area of technology

This is a super cynical take and does not at all address the wants and needs of the majority of users. Removing the need for a gaming PC reduces the barrier to entry and increases the number of people with access to PC games. Not everyone cares about modding their experience, but tons of people would benefit from access to these otherwise unreachable games. Their access through game streaming platforms doesn't hurt your ability to mod.

> Removing the need for a gaming PC reduces the barrier to entry and increases the number of people with access to PC games.

This is not important at all for someone who is a gaming enthusiast and doesn't want services like Stadia to become the new norm and have their enthusiast hobby heavily locked down by publishers and cloud services.

The free market responds to these inputs.

Unlike other cloud gaming services like Geforce Now and xCloud , Stadia chose to use a platform which had very few existing native games i.e Linux. So it was in effect like the launch of a new console, since developers had to port their game to the new platform . But developers didn't have much of an incentive to since there weren't many users on Stadia. And users didn't have much of an incentive to use Stadia, since there were few games and their friends were on other platforms. It's a classic chicken and egg scenario.

The biggest difference (and problem for Stadia) was that you have to buy Stadia games as “Stadia games”. You cannot transfer them out, they are locked into a platform run by a company which is famous for shutting services down rather often. Why would anyone choose Stadia then?

The nice thing about Geforce Now is that you can just run your already bought games on it. Just connect your account to Steam/Epic and you are good to go. You are just renting their hardware essentially.

This is truly the most baffling thing. Google could have truly just built a very tight end-to-end cloud hosted "streaming" product that would have leveraged all their Cloud infra to help you play YOUR games... just on any device through their UI. Pay a small hourly or monthly rate (think spot rate for cloud GPUs) and there... you have a business.

Other people have done it sure and maybe that is why Stadia tried to go even bigger, but if they just launched a simple product like that I think it would have been a big hit (and truly hit the market of people who want to play the latest games at full settings but don't have the hardware to do so)

Is renting out data centre GPUs for cloud gaming currently financially feasible? Considering how much GCP charges for GPUs, I would be surprised if they would be able to offer it at an atractive price (~$10/month). Other providers' services look quite experimental and not ready for mass adoption as well.

It used to be as low as $0.10/hour on AWS for spot rates and of course GCP might not give it out at that rate but it certainly suggests there is some room here. 100 hours of gaming a month is a sizable amount of playtime (if you aren't a hardcore gamer, which arguably a cloud -> streaming gaming option is not going to appeal to anyway)

> you have to buy Stadia games as “Stadia games”. You cannot transfer them out, they are locked into a platform

That part is just like any console.

I was under the impression a good chunk of modern games work on Linux nowadays with proton. Or is there issues having a middle software like proton for good latency?

A lot of the reason why Ubisoft games in particular work so well in Proton -now- is because there are internal ports to Linux of many new games. This does cause a lot of the "window-isms" to get removed.

Source: used to work there, and on a project which was ported to Stadia.

Proton is really good compared to earlier attempts to game on Linux. However we still have a long way to go.

The claim is that like 75% of Windows games are rated "gold" or higher for support using proton. IMO the standard for "gold" and even "platinum" is frequently a lot lower than it should be. There are some games that work perfectly, but IMO even if you stick to gold/platinum rated games there's still a >50% chance you're going to run into some kind of annoying bug or jankiness.

It wasn't good enough for me so I switched back even though I'd really rather stop using Windows on any of my systems.

I'm not a huge gamer anymore but I often use Proton over native Linux. It's such a huge difference from the Wine days.

Apparently the developers had to make it specifically compatible with an in house distro of linux used by Stadia. Which is kinda stupid, since it means that games released on Stadia which would have otherwise been natively usable on Linux systems, are not.

I can't talk about gamelets as I explicitly signed an NDA preventing me from doing so. But it's not "very custom", it's just Linux.

If you make it work on Stadia it will work on Linux. The main thing holding back releases on Linux is that:

1) The userbase is percieved as very small.

2) SDK features (such as entitlement checking, authorization, authentication) are only working on Windows (and Stadia is a trusted platform, so bugs aren't as big of an issue, people are relentless at abusing software they have direct access to)

3) The distribution platform outside of Steam (which is a bugbear in the AAA games industry due to being very expensive and prone to moodswings about what content is agreed and so on) doesn't exist on Linux at all.

Honestly, Stadia would have worked out fine had they started it with a game pass model. Pay a monthly fee and get a library of games to play. They could have later allowed people to buy games 'forever' as well.

that's how it works

It is not. There are some free games you can claim while a subscriber, but they are nothing you'd want to play. Games are purchased at full retail (or more) from their storefront.

I dunno about that. Some 'free' Stadia pro games you can claim today are:

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA Resident Evil 7 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Journey to the Savage Planet

They're not all small indie games (though many of them are).

Meh, Most game engines have Linux support, devs just don't bother testing on it so they don't release builds for it.

2020 was Stadia's best chance due to lockdown and GPU/console shortages and yet it's not doing very well. For a company that is known for shutting down services I don't understand why they went with a model that would cause all your games to disappear if they closed down Stadia. I think they would have stood a much better chance if they had used the GeForce Now model of your purchase just being a standard PC game or if they had gone with the Game Pass model where the games are part of the subscription.

Imagine if Google partnered with Valve to bring your steam library to Stadia. That would have instantly won over millions of gamers. I would have bought into Stadia so I could play my games while traveling.

To me, someone that has been playing games for 30+ years, Stadia couldn't have been handled worse. They tried to pull a Microsoft and enter the gaming world, but forgot to have the killer app like Halo.

I imagine Valve could just build their own game streaming service. They have a massive advantage over Google there.

I think the scope of Stadia was just too damn big. Why launch with their own platform that requires you to buy Stadia games only...

This could have easily been Google legitimizing streaming gaming by simply letting users pay an hourly/monthly fee to get a cloud machine and stream their own library to their device. Some level of optimization to make sure it works with various devices, latencies etc. and voila you probably have a GREAT product.

THEN maybe a year out once you have a super engaged userbase try to build out the Stadia as a unique platform and get people to use and buy games for that natively.

Just feels like a typical Google promo effort that wasn't thought out and brute forced in. Of course the people who worked on this launch will get their promos and no one will be around to help clean up the mess/improve it to a sustainable state.

Part of me wonders why they didn’t buy Zenimax instead of Microsoft, and make the games Stadia exclusives. Good library, Google could afford it, and it would show how powerful the platform was (since things like Doom are the high action games people usually think suck on streaming).

It’s like they built the tech, which is probably some of the best stuff out there (Stadia had less stutter for me than GeForce Now), and then they forgot to hire a few good business people to actually run the product, and then they wondered why it didn’t work. Why wasn’t it all-you-can-eat? Why didn’t they produce a single first party game from beginning to end for the release? Nothing makes a lot of sense here.

Can you imagine the outrage over Google making the next Elder Scrolls Stadia exclusive? I think a move like that might displace EA at the top of the hate pyramid for a bit. Microsoft is going to have some issues if they make the next Elder Scrolls and Fallout permanently XBox exclusive, and that's a well established console franchise that is well accepted for using exclusives to differentiate from Sony etc.

i imagine Google did not buy Zenimax because they seem to operate on a very compressed timeline for their new projects which makes any corporate courtship hard to pull off.

so unless Google came with an obscene "instant yes" offer to Zenimax then both sides would have had to enter some kind of protracted negotiations and talks, which doesn't seem to jive with Google's half in/half out attitude towards new products.

A while ago I gave stadia a try figuring it was a netflix kind of service in which you pay a monthly fee for all the content. Turns out that in addition to that, you are supposed to actually purchase the games.

Taken into account of google constantly pulling the plug on their services, that's not something I'm willing to do, so I cancelled my subscription.

This is where Microsoft has won. Gamepass is that. I don't even have to buy games anymore, there's so much available 'free' to play.

It's free to use for games you purchase. The membership comes with a bunch of free games and discounts for purchases.

Fun Stadia story: pulled in by the lie of Google 4k cloud gpu gaming, I preordered a Stadia "founder's edition" controller + chromecast ultra setup kit for ~$100 + shipping. A couple days later, I got a notification from Google telling me my order had been cancelled, with no explanation or remediation/reorder path. The founder's edition pack was no longer available for sale. I gave up.

A few weeks later, from Google: get a free Stadia founder's edition pack, just pay shipping! So, I did.

It arrives, and you can't enable it without a) an app, and b) giving them all sorts of permissions. It also has an abysmal selection of games, and rarely in 4k.

Now, they will presumably cancel it soon.

This is too-much-money-itis.

Sounds like that android box a few years back. I forget the name, they kick started a crazy amount of money. Promised so much. Right before shipping it out they change it to require a credit card and too much info to turn the thing on. Ended up in the bin.

> Sounds like that android box a few years back. I forget the name, they kick started a crazy amount of money. Promised so much. Right before shipping it out they change it to require a credit card and too much info to turn the thing on. Ended up in the bin.

You mean OUYA. But no, OUYA was a complete disaster, one could argue that Stadia actually works, the problem is the business model and the weird way Google manages its products.

It was good until it launched. Ouya. The changes just before launch killed the project IMO.

Are you thinking of the Ouya?


> It also has an abysmal selection of games, and rarely in 4k.

"I opted to be a beta tester and am amazed it's not ready for prime time"

There's a much better selection now and improving month after month with the addition of AAA titles.

There was nothing beta about it: it was money-for-product and money-for-service. It was just a crappy product, and crappy service. The controller is hot garbage, too.

That might work with a standard SaaS, not on the gaming market. Gamers are not your usual customers.

The competitors are ready for prime time from the moment the console reaches the doorstep.

Alphabet treats their toys much like a child does. They play with them for a few months, then quickly lose interest and let them languish until mom comes along and tosses them out. Why anyone would want to work there outside of their core product line is beyond me.

Cloud gaming is not a business venture, it's industry conspiracy to distort the market and capture exaggerated profits by raping the customer and calling it love.

I have been following the technologies (direct frame buffer capture and inline encode) for a long time because they are also the enabling technologies for high performance locally clustered visualization.

The features were at one point completely unrestricted in the driver, then one day cloud gaming was the next big thing and you had to buy a $10,000 GPU or be Steam to access those APIs.

If you are interested in remote collaboration or scalable visualization you'll just have to hold your breath and wait to see if nVidia and others can strong arm children into economic exploitation, because the technologies are currently being held hostile while industry works through various lubrication formulations for the slope they intend to shove us down.

Google needs to release fewer products and maintain them longer. Simple as that.

I feel their strategy makes a lot of sense if each project is treated like a startup. Release the mvp, iterate quickly, shut it down if it isn't working...

The problem is they attach the Google name for clout and then proceed to drag that name through the mud when they stop support.

Google's name now isn't worth much to me if I'm considering an experimental product.

They should not use the Google moniker unless they are willing to provide long term support.

This was not a startup project.

For Stadia to work they needed a lot of ties to the customer and games companies.

> Release the mvp, iterate quickly, shut it down if it isn't working...

This means that anyone integrating with your product takes huge gamble that you will be here in X months, why risk it?

Google made none thinking that G factor is enough. Its basically Google+ 2.0

Throwing just some money into already occupied and competitive market and expecting things to happen is borderline fraud.

Statia was a stillborn project sailing on a sinking ship made purely out of wishful thinking.

Except startups usually has a couple of people with nothing to fall back on, who will fight tooth and nail to try and succeed.

Your average Google VP is far too comfortable - and with nowhere near enough humility - to stoop to that level.


That countdown is starting to feel optimistic...

I'm from the future. Stadia (was) a platform that tried to change gaming and replace consoles or gaming PCs by using the cloud to play games on any screen. Unfortunately, the gamers said no and ignored it. Then it shut itself down and went to the Google graveyard.

The fact no-one cared about their free trials, their own studios closing, Apple still barring Stadia and now many of the Stadia team leaving should be enough to tell you that Stadia's existence is almost over.

How is it that people are 'still' waiting and scrambling for PS5's and Xbox Series X|S consoles since last year rather than going for Stadia's 'no-hardware' cloud gaming platform? If you can't grow during last year's strange times then you're really off to a slow start.

So I'll sit back, relax and go back to my PC/console device?

I don't doubt that there is some kind of market for it, but I think that the people that hail something like Stadia as "the future of gaming" (as opposed to serving that specific market) really live in a bubble and do not realize that a large majority of people around the globe (or even the US) do not even have access to really good or cap free internet.

I do have access to decent internet (fiber), I tried Stadia and while it was better than I expected it still felt really bad.

I would argue that part of this was execution. I signed and then cancelled 20 minutes later as their catalog didn't have anything I wanted to play.

I saw many similar comments on HN back then.

It inspired me to setup my own EC2 Windows GPU box and buy some games on steam. Neat, but a PITA so I didn't continue with my DIY setup.

Lastly Shadow cloud gaming PC has a lot of users (filed bankruptcy and recently acquired). https://shadow.tech/

I tried it out when Stadia was launched but never got it to work reliably. Despide a wired 1gb fiber connection, I still got frame drops and lags quite frequently. While I wouldn't call it unplayable, it really doesn't compare well to dedicated consoles. Even for a very casual gamer myself, I feel an Xbox Series S is a better purchase.

You played on wifi, right?

No, directly connected to the router via ethernet.

> If you can't grow during last year's strange times then you're really off to a slow start.

Exactly this

I feel sorry for anyone who has brought into Stadia in any way, shape or form. This is soon to be headed to the dustbin of history and a prominent display in killedbygoogle.com. Many people predicted such things the moment it was announced - such is Google's terrible reputation - that they simple cannot be trusted to launch a new product and commit to it for years.

I decided that I'd give ANY new Google project a minimum of 2-3 years (up to 5) before investing. If it shuts down in that time nothing has been lost.

I do look forward to the rage when it just ups and dies and you're left with nothing, while I still have my ISOs and other media that cannot be taken by anyone, ever.

What a farce.

Why? Stadia let me play games with friends I wouldn't have been able to otherwise on my 7 year old macbook air.

Not everyone has a gaming pc and gaming consoles. I played Destiny (which is free) for a few months to try out the service, and it works fine for me.

The community is easily way better than any other platform's community. It's a lot of casual/older players who just want to play a bit, not hardcore gamers who stream and watch streams. So. much. less. toxicity. It's wonderful.

For the games I bought - I expect Stadia to shut down at some point. I never really replay games once I've beaten them, so I don't care if they end up disappearing from the library at some point.

I've easily gotten my money's worth. Stadia definitely isn't for everyone, but I'm very glad it existed.

What a missed opportunity. It's a hard nut to crack, for sure, but Google doesn't seem to have the chops or the product mentality to innovate beyond... Search, really.

Even GCP, despite being a multi-billion dollar #3 in the cloud wars, is still far away from being profitable. I'd say there's a chance that it will not survive many years.

“This latest departure is just another sign that Google's game-streaming service is circling the drain.”. Good.

Hopefully Apple Arcade follows. Such services are a hindrance to indie game development and horrible to ownership rights.

Well... the good thing if Stadia shuts down is that Orcs Must Die 3 will definitely come to PC.

At this point it’ll be killed off before it launches in my Eastern European country

Rebrand it as Google Games.

Stadia is a project that should never gotten off the drawing board and it takes only two words to kill it.

Input lag.

That's not a technical problem. It's physics.

In the very least it should've operated off existing launchers eg buy it in Stream and you can use it in Stadia. But honestly, the games where input lag isn't an issue is such a small subset that Stadia was only ever going to be a niche product.

Funny then that nobody I know that uses it complains about the input lag. (Similarly to how input lag in TVs etc is not something people outside dedicated gamers really care about. Plenty people are quite tolerant/don't know what they are missing)

How is this not survivor bias?

Seems like they were just citing anecdata anyway, so calling out a statistical error doesn't seem worthwhile.

I believe their main point is that humans are much more tolerant of latencies than is commonly assumed. I remember reading about Carmack's early work with VR and sensor delays and screen refresh delays on the order of 100ms and as high as 400ms and it still being enjoyable[1]. At 60fps you've got about 16ms per frame to work with, and I'm sure the human mind doesn't need input -> change in image within a single frame (though I'm sure pro gamers would notice).

I even see people using and enjoying shadowpc + vr headsets, where delay between head turn and change in image can be nauseating.

[1] https://www.pcgamesn.com/virtual-reality-john-carmacks-battl...

Have you used it recently? People are definitely blowing the whole input lag thing out of proportion. Sure it might not hold up if you're a competitive gamer, but for the leisure gamer it's definitely not noticeable assuming you have a decent internet connection.

I have a gigabit connection with ~10ms latency and Stadia feels awful even for single-player games.

Yeah but when did you try it? They've made tons of improvements since it was first launched.

Of course it is to a degree (I don't remember anyone I personally know complaining about the latency, but there is very likely a self-selection that those that would didn't try or didn't talk about it). But I'm not sure why that matters when addressing the claim that the product is a priori useless?

In my experience, it's indistinguishible from local play.

On average I get a single noticeable slowdown event every 3 sessions, so for me it's worth it

I'm on cable, 200/20 with a ping in the mid ten ms range.

10ms ping is about the best possible case. You're practically living inside the servers if that's the case. What if it's more like 50ms?

I can't answer that but i can say that i'm probably 100+ miles from the nearest google dc.

Not sure if any of the network checkers run on gcp

Yes and no, they made incredible strides to get that lag to a better position. It's much better than expected. I had an actually good experience in a racing game on XCloud.

Have you actually tried it? I didn't really notice any lag at all. I believe the Stadia controller connects directly to WiFi to skip the hop on whatever you happen to be playing on and reduce latency. Was actually pretty surprised.

Input lag while streaming is not that bad on a good connection. It won’t work for online FPS games (at least not if you want to win), but for slower FPS, RPGs, etc, it’s ok. This is based on my experience with Geforce Now, I haven’t tried Stadia.

As for the business model though, you’re totally right. No way I’m going to buy a game and be locked into Stadia. Not only would I be prevented from playing locally, who knows how long Stadia will be around at this rate?

I don't know I'm playing Red Dead Remption 2 on Stadia at the moment and I haven't noticed this issue with input lag.

Have you actually tried it? At least with the Stadia controller, Destiny plays fine. I was pleasantly surprised.

I've lived in three cities, none of them 'big', with no input lag problems. I have no idea where they put the machines, but I'm rather confident it's at more places than the GCP datacenters based on my ping times. They typically would float around the 15-20 range, which generally is forgettable. When you add in TV input lag, and controller lag, it's rather unnoticeable(to me, of course, but maybe I'm old).

Luna on the other hand I tried and you could definitely feel it. They are definitely running those at AWS DC's, as I didn't live near one.

I agree that input lag makes it niche, but niche and experimental can be okay. I think the real problem is their pricing model. Stadia is well set up for a Netflix style pricing model where you spend $X a month to try out an experimental idea that works well for some people but not for others. However, having to pay full price for games on a platform that might not work well for you and might even disappear in the near future is just non-sensical.

While not 'core' to Stadia's pricing model, it does support Ubisoft+ where you pay $X a month for access to all the Ubisoft games on Stadia.

I literally have less ping on Stadia than the latency of a wireless controller. I’ve had several friends play on it and nobody noticed any lag.

I doubt you have tried it. It's completely impressive from the latency side. There is a certain budget you have to work with before latency is detectable by most people. More important is your display latency or Bluetooth input latency. Bluetooth latency was a big part of the reason for the wifi pro controller.

GeForce Now has shown that when you depend on existing launchers like Steam, your service's library is can change based on the whims of 3rd parties

I really hope that there will be a court case that tells the game companies to stuff their objections where they belong and makes it clear that every game I've bought on Steam can be played on Geforce Now. I bought the game. I play it on a computer. The game companies should have zero rights to decide whether that computer sits under my desk or in a data center.

That was mostly Stadia's fault for tying up exclusive streaming rights. If they die all the better for the industry.

The steam games that I'm thinking of (chiefly MS Flight Sim) aren't on Stadia

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