Game developers voice their concerns and hesitation about Google Stadia’s future

Kareem Anderson

Things aren’t looking positive at the moment for Google’s ambitious foray into game streaming as reports of frustrated game developers surface.

According to Business Insider, “there are two main reasons their games aren’t on Stadia: Google didn’t offer them enough money, and they don’t trust the mercurial company to stick with gaming in the long term.”

Despite the Stadia team announcing 120 games scheduled to hit the platform in 2020, Google’s Stadia presence is seemingly predicated on relative volume over qualitative distinction. As has been the case with Stadia reporting, the platform has yet to secure a flagship exclusive to help propel the service into contention, however, to make matters worse, BI is reporting that devs see little to no incentive to begin working on games for Google’s nascent game streaming platform.

“It’s that there isn’t enough money there,” one of the publishing executives we spoke with said. The offer was apparently “so low that it wasn’t even part of the conversation.”

While compensation is always a consideration, many of the developers who spoke with BI admit that it’s only a portion of the thought process when considering going into getting in bed with Google’s Stadia efforts, figuratively speaking.

Many of the studios that were approached or have had conversations with Google are also taking into account audience availability, to which Stadia has a very limited one at the moment, the lack of commitment Google has exhibited for its seemingly frivolous endeavours that aren’t tied to GMAIL, MAPS, or the Chrome web browser, and the company’s ambivalence to indie development for the platform.

“There are platforms you want to be on because they have an audience and you want to reach that audience,” one developer said. “That’s what Steam is, or that’s what [Nintendo] Switch is. They have big groups on their platforms, and you want to be with those groups so they can play your games.”

In addition to weighing whether or not an investment in the platform will return enough profit based on the raw numbers, developers have to then manage the internal expectations of success that Google is measuring the platform against and hope that they’re given enough of a lead up to a possible cancellation, as has been the case with other endeavours from the company.

“With Google, it’s easy to look at them as, well — it’s Google!” one publishing exec said. “If anyone’s gonna make it work, it’s them. But they’ve failed a ton in the past and walked away from major services.”

It’s becoming apparent that a growing number of game devs see Google’s Stadia efforts are falling short in the key areas other businesses such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam have nurtured over time.

The evolution from console to game streaming was seemingly inevitable for the likes of Microsoft and Sony but without Google having invested money, time or “sweat equity” to court developers, Stadia’s growth is caught in a chicken-and-egg conundrum that’s being precipitated by the company’s lack of experience in the market, and game devs have other established opportunities to consider for the moment.