Google Stadia was announced in 2018 as a cloud gaming service. It was released in public in late 2019 in certain countries.
Stadia is accessible through Google Chrome web browser on Pixel smartphones, personal computers, and smartphones supported by Samsung, Asus, OnePlus, and Razer. It can also run on Chrome OS tablets and Chromecast to enable TV support.
Google is one of the prominent names in the world of internet and mobile technologies. The company’s cross-functional structure is one of its notable highlights that support a team approach towards management.
Google’s structure has been through major modifications, especially in 2015. The formation of Alphabet as the holding company for independent operating units such as Google, YouTube, Gmail, and Android happened.
Stadia offers 26 games and one exclusive game available for users. Moreover, Google promises a drastic rise in the number of games on Stadia to over 120 games.
However, Stadia did not receive favorable reviews in many circles, and its strategic direction in 2020 would be a topic of prominent significance.
Current Business Model
Google Stadia’s business model is also critical in its efficiency in the existing market. Gamers can stream Stadia games on Pixel 3 phones, Chromecast Ultra, Chrome browsers, Chrome OS devices, and other supported devices.
Users can also stream high-definition video games up to 4K resolution at a frame rate of 60fps. The ‘Founder’s Edition’ bundle of Stadia includes a Stadia controller, a three-month subscription of Stadia Pro, and a Chromecast Ultra.
It also includes a copy of Destiny 2 as well as a three-month buddy pass allowing two players to access your account simultaneously.
Users can purchase the Founder’s Edition of Stadia at $130. The Pro subscription costs $10 per month, although with streaming access to limited titles only. Users have to purchase other games separately, with the facility of discounted prices.
Another important trait in the business model is the requirement of fast internet connections with over 30 Mbps speeds.
The launch of Stadia Base would provide streaming quality at 1080p with 60fps frame rate to gamers. However, Stadia Base does not include free games or discounts for the titles you purchase separately.
So, it is clear that Google Stadia fills the gaming niche, and its primary source of revenue is through its packages and subscriptions.
The Founder’s Edition bundle and subsequent subscription and the purchase of other game titles separately are notable sources of Google Stadia’s value in the existing market.
Two Tiers of Google Stadia’s Subscription Model
As you can notice clearly, there are two distinct tiers of Google Stadia’s subscription model. The first one is the Stadia Pro, and the second one is the Stadia Base. The Stadia Pro subscription allows you to stream games at 4K resolution along with 5.1 surround sound.
On the other hand, the Stadia Base subscription tier focuses on providing 1080p and 720p streaming quality free of cost. However, users have to purchase new games they want to play on Stadia Base.
Google Stadia Content
The gaming content on Google Stadia also creates prominent ambiguities in the minds of potential customers. Stadia’s uncertainty makes it difficult for gamers to build a library of games only to find it evaporated into thin air if/when Google abandons the project.
Its gaming library has almost 26 games, and is gradually adding up new games. The initial launch library of Google Stadia included the titles present for some time on different gaming systems.
Some notable names in the launch library include Destiny 2, Mortal Kombat 11, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Stadia releases have followed a similar pattern. The platform has continued to add hit games for the last few years, such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Octopath Traveler.
Also, Stadia plans on introducing new titles such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and exclusive titles such as Orcs Must Die 3 and Lost Worlds: Beyond the Page.
Until now, the Stadia gaming library’s growth presents formidable prospects for its long-term growth and rise in appeal to customers.
Advantage of Google Stadia
However, it is also essential to reflect on the factor that Stadia provides a streaming service for cloud-based gaming.
The advantage of resource savings is crucial for ensuring that gamers don’t have to invest in additional hardware for streaming the games. This is unlike Xbox, where you have to download the games and invest in storage.
Google Stadia offers a reliable gaming experience with the facility of streaming in a new way. As compared to Stadia, digital download platforms such as Steam from Valve provide the facility of downloading and installing games locally.
Pricing and Streaming Quality
However, as discussed previously, Google Stadia appeals to a narrow niche market among gamers.
The heavy critique of Stadia following its launch and Google’s announcement regarding the introduction of 120 more games also present a very confusing picture.
The pricing of Google Stadia is based on a subscription model. Also, you can use Stadia through subscriptions after purchasing the equipment bundle for Stadia.
However, Google Stadia is entirely cloud-based and consumes a lot of data for maintaining responsive controls and a stable picture.
At an average of around 16GB per hour, you would be sacrificing a massive amount of data for achieving the best possible streaming quality on Google Stadia.
Additionally, users cannot achieve the desired graphics in the games on Google Stadia, as you would find on native systems.
Users should also know the minimum internet speed specifications for using Google Stadia at various streaming qualities. The minimum recommended internet speed for having the best experience of Google Stadia is 10 Mbps.
Users can stream at 720p with 60fps and stereo sound at 10Mbps internet speeds. You can stream at 1080p streaming quality only with a recommended internet-connected speed of 20Mbps.
However, the increased internet speed requirements for 1080p streaming provide HDR video quality assurance alongside the 60fps frame rate and 5.1 surround sound.
However, to get the best experience of Google Stadia, you need at least 35Mbps internet connection for 4K streaming quality and HDR video at 60fps with 5.1 surround sound facilities.
Google Stadia Subscribers
It is essential to note that the number of users on Google Stadia is a major setback apart from its pricing model.
Google Stadia has launched the free tier to the public with a two-month trial of Stadia Pro. You would also get a library of free games.
After the launch of the free tier of Google Stadia, Destiny 2, in particular, has witnessed a drastic rise in the number of players.
It is not a very common practice in the video game industry to present information about the number of players on public platforms. Therefore, it is not possible to find out the exact data regarding the player count.
At the end of 2020, Sony will launch its PlayStation 5. Also, Microsoft will release the Xbox Series X.
Microsoft has also already engaged in public beta testing of the Project xCloud gaming service. This provides 50 games, including the signature games Gears 5 and Halo.
The Xbox Game Pass is also a prominent competitor in which Microsoft creates parallels with Google Stadia. It offers access to over 100 titles at a price starting more than $9.99 every month.
The next important entrant in the world of cloud gaming is Amazon. It owns Twitch, a service that allows watching a live stream of people playing games.
Nvidia GeForce Now is also one of the notable game streaming services available. It can allow gamers to play some of the best gaming titles on platforms such as Battle.net,UPlay, or Steam on nearly any mobile device or computer.
GeForce Now presents a reliable option for gamers who have an extensive collection of PC games, who want to play them on the go.
Approaches for Competition
The different strategies of Google Stadia for achieving competitive advantage are also notable highlights of its business model. Google has tried the fresh approach of including wireless connectivity in the game controller to communicate commands directly back to the cloud server.
As a result, it can ensure better-connected device compatibility and a significant reduction of latency. Without Bluetooth and the need to open a return channel from the connected device, the internet’s direct connection helps reduce latency.
It can also enable controller support for the controller devices that do not support Bluetooth.
Identify Strengths to Improve Competitive Advantage
Google has the potential for long-term development in the cloud-based gaming domain. Since the industry is in the budding stage, the potential of Google Stadia has remained undiscovered.
Even Microsoft perceives Stadia as a prominent competitor because of Google’s massive cloud computing networks and data centers.
The familiarity of Google with the cloud infrastructure and its reliability in the world of technology dictate the potential of Google Stadia for dominance in the gaming industry.
Most importantly, Google’s massive financial strength as a corporation can help drive further improvements in Google Stadia.
Note the Weaknesses
The prominent weaknesses of Google Stadia include the higher consumption of data for better streaming quality, uncertain and expensive pricing model, and the necessity for purchasing games separately.
Also, Google Stadia has to bear the burden of its limited assortment of games and lag in response times.
It is also important to look at the higher internet speed requirements for using Google Stadia. At a recommended speed of 35Mbps for the best gaming experience, Google Stadia could be a huge turnoff for people without faster internet access.
Although internet connectivity is gaining prominent recognition in recent times, many people still struggle to cross the cost barrier for internet accessibility. Also, the speed of 10Mbps for 720p streaming is a huge requirement to ask of some users.
Google Stadia is a prominent entrant in the world of cloud-based gaming services. It is changing old paradigms and bringing high-resolution gaming experience to gamers.
However, Stadia’s pricing plan is one of the most critical shortcomings for developing the future of Stadia’s performance.
Subsequently, users have also presented Google Stadia negatively in all reviews. This is due to the limited assortment of games in its library.
To survive, Stadia must implement short-term objectives. Some examples are improving the number of games in its portfolio, and long-term objectives such as refining their pricing model.
The year 2020 is a testing phase for Google Stadia. Truly, it has to work on essential factors to improve and sustain its competitive advantage.