Stadia Isn't Starting Off Well, Even Judging By Player Counts On Free Games
from the stadi-uhhhhhhh dept
Since the day of Google’s launch of Stadia, its video game streaming platform that was supposed to be the end of home consoles, the platform arrived to reactions that ranged from “meh” to laughter at how terribly the launch was going. Between that reception and the public backlash from the platform not living up to its promises, a whole lot of folks have cast very narrow eyes at Google’s platform as a whole.
Thumper, along with Rise of the Tomb Raider, was a free Stadia Pro title for the month of January, meaning everyone who paid $129 for the service’s “Founder’s Edition” and “Premiere Edition” bundles has access to it (those bundles, which are the only current way to access Stadia, include three months of Stadia Pro service). As of this morning, though, only 5,515 people have registered a score on the leaderboards for the first stage of the Stadia version of the game, which separates such leaderboards by platform. That number was at 4,563 on January 15, when Ars conducted a spot check.
Now, there are a bucket full of caveats in all of this. That count only considers anyone who officially scored in the game, which requires completing the first level. That takes 15 minutes or so, but it’s likely there are some percentage of players who have begun to play the game and have yet to complete the first level. There are also certainly some Stadia users who have signed up for the service and therefore received the free version of Thumper but haven’t used Stadia at all. And, finally, Stadia is somewhat late to the game, meaning that some of its customer base may have already enjoyed Thumper on a different platform.
Cool. Now that we’ve got all of those caveats aside, the numbers are still bad. The Ars post mentions that comparing playership between Stadia and other platforms isn’t entirely fair due to Stadia being so new, before adding counter-caveats of its own.
Then again, it’s important to remember that all those players on non-Stadia platforms had to actually pay up to $20 to buy the game before playing it. Thumper has only attracted a few thousand Stadia players despite being completely free for everyone currently using the service since the beginning of January.
Caveats aside, the low player numbers for Thumper on Stadia aren’t a good sign for a service that attracted widespread criticism in multiple launch-day reviews and is receiving growing impatience from many early adopters hoping for a larger game library. If a game that Google is literally giving away is only attracting a few thousand players on Stadia, we have to wonder how many sales publishers are seeing for full-cost streaming titles that can run up to $60.
In some ways, this is very Google. Find a cool idea for a service, throw a ton of development at it, and then roll it out before its ready for prime time. The company then relies on its massive reach to either improve the service to the point where it is more stable, or simply lets it die (remember Google Plus?).
Bottom line, there is no indication at this time that Stadia is a complete product. And plenty of evidence suggesting the opposite.