You may be asking yourself why I’m writing about Google Stadia again after the tech giant announced that it would be dead and gone by the new year. Well, it may have slipped up and caused its own untimely demise, but that doesn’t mean that cloud gaming itself is done for.
In fact, services like Nvidia GeForce NOW and Amazon Luna are alive and well. Well, much of that outcome remains to be seen as each company is currently seizing an opportunity to snag Stadia’s audience of nomad gamers who are currently looking for the best alternative. Just this week, GeForce added direct touchscreen gameplay controls – a feature Google brought to the table and innovated on first. Also, Amazon is working overtime to make Luna an attractive replacement for the failed cloud gaming platform.
Can “The other guys” carry cloud gaming?
So, the question on everyone’s mind, and one that I intend to answer today is “will these other services fail as Stadia has?” Aside from Netflix and its cloud gaming business that it’s trying to spin up over the next few years which will undoubtedly fail for several reasons, I think the answer is “no, not exactly”. I wouldn’t even say that Stadia “failed”. However, it’s not that simple, and while each of these offerings may come and go, they will each help shape the identity and the future of cloud gaming as a whole.
Playing games on someone else’s computer from a distance and paying them for it is nothing new. In fact, it all started back with OnLive and although it was before its time, it went on directly to influence Gaikai, which then was bought by Sony and transformed into PlayStation Now, and then PlayStation Plus Premium. It’s not the best service, but it’s one of the juggernauts that’s taken over the space and has the public eye. If it weren’t for OnLive, none of the cloud gaming providers we have today would believe in the possibilities.
Stadia had its chance and screwed it up
The same could be said for Stadia. Its technology may go on to do better things, and I say that’s a win, despite how I feel about what Google did to the community, its employees, and its partners. It’s certainly left its mark on the industry for better and for worse. More people now believe in cloud gaming than ever before, and while it’s drawn a fair additional amount of criticism for its execution (and its “execution”), the good that it’s done can’t be understated. With more money and more innovative minds working around the clock to create unique experiences and infrastructure, things have moved along a lot faster than they would have otherwise.
Others will crop up in its place
Actually, that’s precisely my point. Anyone with a pocket full of cash and a strategy – either short-term or long-term – has a golden opportunity right now to be a pioneer in this space. They have a responsibility, and as Uncle Ben says in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. In Google’s case, “irresponsibility”.
Amazon has long since been in the gaming space, and I don’t believe it do Luna dirty like Google did Stadia. Even when Google mutilated YouTube Gaming, Twitch was on the rise and getting lots of dedicated attention (no, we’re not talking about Twitch’s latest controversy today). The same can be said for Nvidia – GeForce NOW has been doing fantastic, gaining new features with little to no mob standing outside its headquarters with pitchforks and torches. The company has made graphics cards for gamers for decades, what did you expect? Hosting a cloud gaming service just makes sense for them!
Google understands technology, not people
Google seems to be the only oddball out here. A search company that’s transitioned to Ai, and has its fingers in literally every other pie (“my germs!“) while simultaneously feigning dedication to the gaming space and community without truly committing to it couldn’t possibly have hoped to keep traction and build an empire. That’s Google’s main issue – it wants to be everything to everyone, but it doesn’t take the time to understand the community engrained in each space, and that’s why it always fails.
Amazon Luna and Nvidia GeForce NOW may very well make the same mistakes and lose their footing in time. Actually, as they add the same features and make many of the same moves, I worry that they may also shut down one day, but as with Stadia, that’s not really the point. All technology is greater than the sum of its parts, and as consumers, we must realize this and adapt.
A double-edged sword
Cloud gaming has only taken off because of the big guys and their wallets, but that’s also the very reason it’s struggling. It’s a double-edged sword and one we must swallow from both ends without getting cut. I believe we’ll figure it out eventually, but we’re in the “awkward haircut stage” of things, and will grow out of it toward maturity with time.
Others will come along in place of those that give up on cloud gaming, and as gamers, we must not avoid the technology just because it’s going through a rough time right now. I see a lot of YouTubers – especially those who are retro and physical game collectors rejoicing that Stadia died, and I don’t believe that’s the right response. Whatever comes next, we should all support it while engaging in important conversations about how it will unfold and serve the audience.
History in the making
Just because cloud gaming exists, that doesn’t mean you can’t support physical media, though I do understand the argument of companies leaning into it and away from discs if the cloud succeeds. Honestly though, I see innovation as an unstoppable force, regardless of what the old heads like myself and others want to happen. It’s my belief that we have the power to make cloud gaming what it will eventually become, and we have a responsibility as the end users to make it the best it could be by participating in history and giving feedback.
I encourage you all to try out both Nvidia GeForce NOW, Amazon Luna, and hell, even Netflix gaming as it starts to take off. Enjoy games for the sake of games wherever they are because that’s what this is all about! In the meantime, become an active voice for what you want and what you don’t want as it takes shape – we’re witnessing history in the making in the same way that we did as kids when the original Nintendo launched in North America.