Will Google Return to Gaming?
What might the future hold for the search giant's gaming aspirations?
Google Stadia was a great experiment, an ambitious take on the modern gaming experience. It was an attempt to reduce our reliance on physical media and offer an experience outside the boundaries of the home.
Yet it was also an experiment that was unceremoniously cut short. The decision left early adopters with a sour taste in their mouths and gloaters with the smugness that only comes from being right. Let's examine what wrong and what Google might look to do in the future.
From the beginning, there were those that would spread the word of failure. Those that refused to give Stadia a chance based on Google's previous experiments such as Google Glass.
From day one they said it would never work and rather than working against this viewpoint, Google seemed to play right into it. The console always felt to me to be the unloved child with...
- The promise of independent games via its own games studio was quickly swept under the rug (within the first year)
- The core audience was never well-defined and so Stadia failed to draw mainstream console dwellers away from the PlayStation or the Xbox
- Launch day features took too long to arrive.
Refunds were provided, yes, but the investment in time will not be returned and whilst the gloaters would never have adopted, Google will be up against the early adopters who have been burnt by their faith.
The Next Steps?
Assuming that Google wants to get back into gaming you would guess that they would give it at least ten years. From the Google Stadia rollout, they must have terabytes of data and user behaviour to comb through, as well as a lessons-learned meeting that would fill a full-time role for a year.
They have plenty to get on with and as gamers, we need to forget. We need to place that memory to the side and remember the good. For Google that would mean staying front of mind, innovating, and developing in order to shift that negative taste into something more palatable.
The hope would then be in ten years, whilst there would be some who remember and others who would dig out articles, innovation would override hesitation. The excitement would have returned and the early adopters could then be persuaded to take another look at Google.
Tech would also have undoubtedly moved on in the ten years that would pass and we could...
- Have the world's first immersive reality box care of Google
- Have the most interactive VR kit ever seen
- Have a tiny stick that sits by the TV and streams everything...every game ever known to mankind in one box, which would be available for a regular monthly fee (tier based of course).
Who knows? Not me, but what I do know is that there is still potential and whilst I was frustrated with Google, I feel that with enough time I would give them another chance.
Via Another Company
Maybe Google won't go the route of developing and running the project themselves. Maybe they will invest in a startup or even multiple start-ups that can deliver their vision. Send them all out there and see which pulls the public in, whilst saving themselves the hassle and utilising the expertise and good PR of another.
They may not even wish to be associated with gaming at all and merely sell the data they have scraped from the Stadia experiment. Looking at playtime, cost vs gaming time analysis, and areas of interest, where subscriber numbers were high... it may just be the marketer in me but I'd be curious to see all of that information.
Companies such as Sony and Microsoft undoubtedly have their own data pools but for a start-up or big tech that wants to get back into the market, the data from Google Stadia would be useful.
Facebook and the Metaverse could explode over the next decade and Google Stadia could find a home there. A separate universe where people plug in with a VR kit and are offered all the gaming experiences they could ever want might be the way.
Google Wants No More
We could all be considering the future and Google has decided that it's had enough. Gaming is not an avenue for them to invest in again and so they will analyse their data and learn their lessons but never dip their toes in again.
Google is after all a big business and big business needs to continue making a profit and moving forward. After burning bridges and offering refunds, this may not be possible.
This would be a shame as whilst I have been burnt, lost out from the Google Stadia investment, and left feeling as though I have been used, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Stadia. I hope that they will be back at some point.
A Final Thought
As a betting man, I will state for the record that Google will be back. They will return to the market and offer gamers something new in the future. Something that builds upon their failures and their legacy in order to impress rather than depress those who invested their hard-earned money.
The biggest obstacle that they will face is PR. Through Google Stadia they offered us a taste of the future and then whipped it from under us, leaving us as though we were simply an experiment. We were being used and there was no real intention to continue pushing it for the long term, whereas Microsoft and Sony are resolved to win the console battle, no matter the cost.
I loved Stadia and still love Google and believe that they will return in the future, but who knows? If big business wins out, where the words "Return on Investment" are thrown around to the detriment of all other activities, would anyone be surprised?
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