OK, after watching the presentation, I thought it was interesting, but I need to see more to decide how this will work out. Thinking about for the last hour I am now pretty much convinced, that Google Stadia will succeed.
First of all: what means success? Well, in this case I would say it has 50 million monthly active users in five years (2024) each month of the year. And it will grow more, because it isn't disrupted by generations and has to start all over.
So, why do I think this? First of all, this was a presentation clearly intended for game developers (no surprise at the Game Developers Conference). And from the perspective of a game developer there was a lot to love. This was not a presentation for gamers - I expect this will happen later. So from a gamers view some things still seem unclear.
What was there for a game developer to love?
Well, the presentation clearly was intended to show that everyone can pick up gaming pretty simple. Google is lying a bit if they say you don't need something special - you need Chrome. But as pretty much everyone already has it, this hurdle is not very big. So they are showing the game developers a potentially big userbase with no need to sell them something first before they can joining Stadia. Hundreds of millions of people already have a working installation to joining Stadia and play.
Secondly they showed that bringing people into playing a game is extremely easy. As easy as an youtube streamer has a simple link and people liking the video can play the same game instantly. This is extremely helpful for smaller developers to bring people to play their game. Google even showed that the youtubers probably can connect closer to the community offering this, so the game developers can be content this feature will be used.
Google also convinced them that they have a defined platform so that the developers don't have to add options for different hardware configurations, while this platform is also powerful enough to be not restricting at the moment. I am sure Google will update this standard platform once a year or so, but developers can develop for a defined platform similar to a console, while having few power constraints like on PC. Google also showed that they have the most common middleware like Unreal engine and Unity already lined up for their platform.
They also showed how the platform can support game development (the demo showing how different artstyles are applied to a polygon model) and multiplayer. This means more exciting options in games with less development time.
This all says to me, that right there at GDC Google will be able to win over a lot of smaller developers for the platform, so that they can show a more impressive lineup then they launch. But Google wasn't sleeping either. In the short video they showed Trials, Just Dance and Assassins Creed, so obviously Ubisoft is on board. The showing of Doom Eternal was registering Bethesda support, but that presentation was actually more to assure the input lag wouldn't be too bad. They also said they have first party development, without going into detail. This more or less shows me, that Google is aware they need games to push the platform and were active in that direction.
But why do I think they will succeed? Now, people here are focused on image quality, compression, data plans and input lag. But in reality losses in image quality, compression and data plans isn't holding back Netflix. To the point Disney and Warner decided to start a competition. So while many users in this forum care about this stuff, many people outside this forum will not care or even notice. Input lag could ruin your experience. That's why Google showed Doom Eternal. This is less about the game per se, but more about: look, this game that is really fast-paced works on Stadia and id software is convinced enough of it to go with the platform. So I think Google has reduced the problem enough to make it viable for a majority. Still, avid gamers will complain about the lag. But I am very convinced Stadia will bring a lot of people into gaming, which are currently on the fence or play sporadically. And the potential in this group is huge. Google might have a blue ocean here (not for long, I will come to this).
So basically what I take from this presentation is the following:
- Google knows what they are doing, they touched enough of the points so that I know they thought of it.
- Stadia could bring many people into gaming which are currently reluctant. The potential is huge, as pretty much everyone has a device with Chrome.
- They have lined up support from middleware and gaming companies and this presentation was made to bring in more game developers for securing a great lineup.
- The convinience of this system is better than current console platforms.
Why hasn't gaming catched on so far and what does Google differently? Well, the convenience is the main point here. The presentation drove home the point that everyone on pretty much every device can play with Stadia. They need no special client, no special hardware, simply a browser. So far I don't see it that much.
I do think though that this offer will not stay unmatched. I can think Microsoft is already thinking in this direction. Also Amazon has the capabilities to offer their own service. But Google has for now started and has the first mover advantage.
I see many people in this forum will say Stadia will fail, with the same reasons they explain why Netflix never can work and Bluray is better. The reasons are completely true, but will not matter for the majority of people. And I am pretty much convinced Google has secured the points that matter.