Google Stadia is Reportedly Failing at Attracting Indie Support

Google Stadia has approached several indie developers, but most echoed the same response. Google just didn’t have anything to offer them.

By Crystal Mills

March 2, 2020

Google Stadia has promised to become the “Netflix of Gaming,” but it has yet to deliver a well-rounded experience. The initial release of the experience was met with mixed opinions, with many complaining of a small list of titles. Four months later, Stadia’s library sits at less than 30. Google has stated that another 120 games are planned to be released in 2020, including anticipated AAA titles Cyberpunk 2077 and DOOM Eternal, but there’s one market that seems to be neglected. 

Indie games. 

While some indie developers have been approached, many of them echoed the same response. Google just didn’t have anything to offer them.

One developer
told Business Insider, “We were approached by the Stadia team. Usually with that kind of thing, they lead with some kind of offer that would give you an incentive to go with them.”

However, that offer was “non-existent.”

A publishing executive added, “It’s that there isn’t enough money there.” The offer was “so low that it wasn’t even part of the conversation.” 

“When we’re looking at these types of deals,” another indie developer said, “We’re looking at ‘Is this enough money where we have the resources to make what we want, or is this an exclusivity deal that gives us security?’”

One developer said, “There are platforms you want to be on because they have an audience and you want to reach that audience. 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.” 

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Stadia’s reach is nothing to be excited about currently. So without a major active community, and with nothing to offer, many indie developers are refusing to join. And while money and other incentives are an issue for indie developers, there are other concerns. 

“If you could see yourself getting into a long term relationship with Google?” one developer said. “But with Google’s history, I don’t even know if they’re working on Stadia in a year. That wouldn’t be something crazy that Google does. It’s within their track record.”

Google is notorious for cutting off products and services that don’t find success, and many are worried Stadia could be the next death. 

Stadia representative Patrick Seybold said, “The publishers and developers we speak with regularly are very supportive, and want Stadia to succeed. It is also worth pointing out that not every publisher has announced their games for Stadia so far, and more games will continue to be announced in due course.” 

He released a list of the major publishers Google is currently working with, but they’re all larger publishers who are behind major AAA titles. Some of these publishers include Bethesda, Ubisoft, EA, Rockstar Games, and 2K Games. Unfortunately, most indie hits are not produced by these publishers. 

With nothing to offer, Stadia is losing an important piece of the video game industry. 

One developer who decided not to publish on Stadia said, “It wasn’t just a financial thing. At the end of the day, I’m asking the question, ‘Why would I do this?’ And there was no positive reason to move forward. There wasn’t really anything to want us to get in the door other than to be the first on the platform.” 

While Google struggles to pull in indie support, the company is trying to attract more players. The latest update hints that previously promised features might be coming soon. These include a free tier, family game sharing, and YouTube streaming.

Streaming is one of the larger features, and could be a huge update for YouTube broadcasters. Stadia could make the process as simple as pressing a single button to go live. Unfortunately, the hints are mostly speculation at this point, and with a minuscule game library available, streaming probably won’t be a priority for those using Stadia’s service. 

Google has a lot of work to do to make Stadia a viable platform for cloud gaming.

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Crystal Mills

Born with a controller in her hand, Crystal has been a lifelong gamer who has been known to obsessively ramble about Dragon Age theories. She loves everything from RPGs to shooters, and has a passion for Call of Duty esports. She has written for The Loadout, theScore esports, OpTic Intel, and more. When not writing or gaming Crystal is usually working in surgery, strapping on some boxing gloves, or trying to figure out what her My Hero Academia quirk would be.

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