When Google revealed Stadia, their game streaming platform, there was a sudden burst of excitement. This was Google in the end, and while they have a track record of projects that never succeeded, well, this was Google in the end. The general tech space started talking about the future of gaming with all its glory and woes for a while, then mostly forgot about it. But the gaming space had doubts.
Now, Stadia is released and the gaming space has not welcomed it. Not only there are physical, technical failures, the model they bring is also strange. It’s like a console, but not like one. It’s a subscription service, but you have to buy games. In the world of gaming, people are used to buying or preordering the titles they are most interested in at launch and waiting for steam discounts for secondary titles. Furthermore, a continuously increased amount of people opt for subscription services to freely own or access games such as the Humble Monthly, Xbox Game Pass, PS Plus or Origin Access. If one of your “advantages” is not buying a device (ie saving cost) but you force people to pay for a high-speed internet, a subscription service AND buy games… Well, there is a contradiction there, isn’t it?
Another point I wanna raise is the attitude. Despite how big it is, gaming space is still a niche. You can’t just go “Here is a product, buy!” and expect people to buy it. I mean some will, but to catch up, you need to have either a spirit that the gamers can join you or good communication. Players value community and bonding with products. And no, not just the youth. It’s everyone.
Of course, it’s too early to speak about Stadia’s success. Steam faced a great deal of opposition when it started, so did free-to-play, even games that focus on multiplayer. By now, these are either accepted or found their own audiences.
That said, when you are GOOGLE and have the resources, you can do a lot and I gave it a bit of thought. Here is what I would do:
DISCLAIMER: This is semi-imagination, not an actual business plan (in case it wasn’t clear enough.)
Google has a bad rep. Being a big evil corporate, failed projects, privacy and Big Data topics… Maybe android scores them some points, but there is no sympathy to the brand. They are also too detached from the consumers, something unlikely to change. But of course, you can’t just go work with a liked brand for the sake of it, you need business viability.
Plus, everyone knows from movies that it takes a team to do great things. So let’s take a look at the issues:
- High-speed internet
- Lack of panache
Stadia Partner 1: Elon Musk
Starlink seems to be able to handle high-speed internet and is soon to be spread worldwide. What is Stadia and Starlink came in packages? We don’t have specifics on the Starlink’s global business model, but it can work in a number of ways:
Starlink connection may be part of a “premium subscription” for Stadia. Depending on how Starlink will work, this may even provide more “mobility” to Stadia users. If you have the connection, you may not need it. But if not, it’d be alluring to upgrade to this level of subscription.
Stadia might be included in Starlink subscriptions. You get the internet, it comes with a gaming service. Considering how widespread gaming is becoming, I think there is little doubt how many internet users will be interested.
Finally, Starlink might provide an alternative way to connect to Stadia, ie even without a fully-fledged Starlink subscription, you might connect to Stadia by it. Normal internet? Through your ISP. Stadia? Through Starlink.
This not only solves the internet issue but also brings in some communication since Musk is known to be a gamer and very active on social media. Plus, I’m sure his innovative crazy mind would bring at least some ideas that would improve the service.
So, where are we now?
- High-speed internet — SOLVED!
- Communication/Image — Improved!
- Lack of panache — Slightly Improved!
Stadia Partner 2: Min-Liang Tan
Min-Liang is not only the CEO of Razer, the lead gaming hardware but an entrepreneur with several other projects and influential figure in tech and gaming alike.
Razer can take the much-complained hardware Stadia brings and take it to the next level in both functionality and cosmetics as an expert of both.
Some baseline functionality and design upgrade may be applied across the board, while premium Stadia membership can come with some software functionality.
Better cosmetics and hardware upgrades can be either standalone items for Razer to sell and/or added bonuses to perhaps purchasing a yearly Stadia subscription.
Even more so than Musk, Tan can definitely bring innovation on the table. Similarly, his communication with gamers will definitely help. He’s much liked by the Razer community (the fact that there is a fandom-ish community around a high-end product tells a lot) and even by those outside it. He entertains players, he understands them.
Let’s take a look:
- High-speed internet — SOLVED!
- Communication/Image — Greatly Improved!
- Lack of panache — SOLVED!
The Secret Sauce
Final step would be tweaking the model depending on what these two bring. Maybe the costs will be lowered that buying games won’t matter. Maybe Stadia will be able to support a free model like any platform. Maybe buying games won’t be required or Stadia will have a model similar to Playstation. In fact, if other steps bring enough change, even the current model can work!
So that’s my “Fantasy Stadia”. Do you agree? How would you do it?