There has been an explosion in cloud gaming service providers in recent years, many of which have struggled to reach a wider audience of gamers.
We’ve seen success stories, of course, in the form of Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. But there are others that have missed the mark of providing stable or cost-effective services, namely attempts such as Amazon Luna and Google Stadia.
To understand why cloud gaming platforms like Google Stadia got out of trouble, I spoke with Yannis Weinbach, CMO of 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 flounder were insightful and thorough.
Two important elements
According to Yannis, there are two essential components that cloud gaming services need to get out of the way. The first is “definitely the business model,” he says. And regarding Google Stadia, he believes this is something that “completely killed them.”
“When Stadia was launched,” Yannis says, “the idea was to say you had to pay [for] games on PC that you probably already have on other platforms.
“Or you do it with a full game catalog like Xbox [Cloud Gaming] or use other distribution platforms, that’s basically what GeForce Now does.”
So creating a brand new distribution platform would always be an uphill battle for Google. As Yannis mentioned, Xbox Cloud Gaming can achieve success because it is already linked to the huge Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library. And because it’s bundled with the subscription, you don’t have to pay a cent extra to access the cloud library on your PC or smart device.
GeForce Now gets around the problem by connecting to your existing PC libraries, be that Steam, the Epic Games Launcher, or something else. It uses those existing launchers to let you play supported games over the cloud.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Google Stadia, though. Yannis outlines that the second factor cloud platforms need to address is “the user experience.” Things like ease of use, UI layout, connection stability and so on.
This is where Yannis feels that Google Stadia has “taken a few steps forward. They have a very good user experience.”
And I agree. Stadia has recently managed to roll out a handful of excellent features. The new Party Stream feature makes streaming and playing games with friends relatively seamless, thanks to its drop-in nature. And late last year, Stadia launched on LG smart TVs, opening up the service to even more potential customers.
Shadow believes there is a strong future in cloud gaming and cloud technology in general. And from the words of Yannis emerged a general enthusiasm for the space that is becoming more and more mature. Even Google Stadia, which got off to a rough start, may have a bright future as one of cloud gaming’s earliest experiments.