There has been an explosion of cloud gaming service providers in recent years, many of which have struggled to capture a wider audience of gamers.
We’ve seen success stories in the form of Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now, of course. But even more they missed the mark in providing stable or cost-effective services, namely attempts like Amazon Luna and Google Stadia.
To understand why cloud gaming platforms like Google Stadia have stumbled, I spoke with Yannis Weinbach, CMO at Shadow (opens in new tab) – a service that emulates a full Windows 10 PC experience via the cloud for a monthly fee.
And while Shadow isn’t just a cloud gaming platform, Yannis’ thoughts on why services like Stadia are struggling were insightful and thorough.
Two key elements
According to Yannis, there are two vital components that cloud gaming services need to keep in mind. The first is “definitely the business model,” he says. And regarding Google Stadia, he believes this is something that “totally killed them”.
“When Stadia came out,” says Yannis, “the idea was to say you had to pay [for] PC games that you probably already have on other platforms.
“Or you do it with a whole catalog of games like Xbox [Cloud Gaming] or make use of other distribution platforms, which is basically what GeForce Now is doing.”
Creating an entirely new distribution platform was always going to be an uphill battle for Google, then. As Yannis alluded to, Xbox Cloud Gaming is able to find success as it is already linked to the vast Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library. And because it’s included in the subscription, you don’t have to pay a penny more to access your cloud library on your PC or smart device.
GeForce Now avoids the problem by connecting to your PC’s existing libraries, be it Steam, Epic Games Launcher, or another. It uses these existing launchers to let you play cloud supported games.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Google Stadia. Yannis points out that the second factor that cloud platforms need to target is “the user experience”. Things like ease of use, UI layout, connection stability, and so on.
This is where Yannis feels Google Stadia has “taken a few steps forward. They have a really good user experience.”
And I agree. Stadia has managed to release a handful of great features recently. Its new Party Stream feature makes streaming and gaming with friends relatively easy, thanks to its drop-in nature. And late last year, Stadia launched on LG’s smart TVs, opening up the service to even more potential customers.
Shadow believes there is a strong future for cloud gaming and cloud technology in general. And Yannis’ words portrayed a general enthusiasm for the space as it continues to mature. Even Google Stadia, which got off to a rocky start, could have a bright future as one of the first cloud gaming experiments.