STORY: An op ed reflecting on Stadia’s 2021 mainstream media coverage.
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I had the pleasure the other day of reading a concerned gamer’s response on the Stadia sub Reddit . The post asked ” Why is every media take on Stadia absolute dogshit?” I chuckled at the title, but the spirit of the post began to grow on me. In the wake of more of our journalistic friends over shooting the moon on what Stadia is, instead of giving it time to grow like it’s peers, we see more articles that fuel this sentiment. Being someone who can completely relate, I felt compelled to try to answer this concerned gamer’s question the best way I could. I tried doing so focused on all of the peculiar articles that likely sparked the post in the first place. Therefore,this is needed, because let’s face it. Stadia has been the most over scrutinized and poorly understood service I’ve ever witnessed in my 35+ years of gaming.
My response is as follows:
Great question – It’s for a few complicated but troubling reasons.
1) They lack the ability to simply say “my bad”: What do I mean by this? Well most of the media ire is based on their belief that Stadia out of the box was suppose to compete with PS and XB. This despite several interviews from Phil Harrison & Jack Buser speaking to the contrary. They failed to do research, stuck to a TFLOPS slide at a developer conference, and never were able to let it go. Their inability to say ” … oops, despite some of Stadia’s odd messaging, we totally jumped the gun, this is not a primetime experience just yet. It’s one they’re slowly building towards at a speed that may annoy a number of us. Nonetheless the signs of building are there as seen in xyz”. Instead they call it a failure, declare it dead every 5 minutes, while giving their peers a pass on issues many would consider worse (i.e. poor & inconsistent stream quality, lack of convenience, too costly barriers of entry for atypical cloud gamer).
2) False sense of control: As a content creator myself, one who challenges motifs that don’t square up to the facts, I often find that most of the media just don’t like cloud gaming. They think it relinquishes “ownership” of game purchases. This right here is proof enough that the current journo camp often falls short of due diligence. Why, because currently you own nothing when it comes to games ( speaking; console, PC, mobile, cloud retail purchases). You are granted access to a license as explained here several years ago . Being able to install a game on local hardware doesn’t nullify this fact. What it means is in instances you can better control your access to said content by going “offline”. However that may not be possible in all situations. Also with the growing advent of DRM even for single player games, that control is slipping away day by day.
3) Fear of the unknown: Too many in the mainstream media have expressed a fear of the apex of cloud gaming. They question; Am I no longer going to be able to “find” dedicated hardware to play my favorite games? Again the lack of due diligence is at play here. Cloud gaming, even though growing at impressive rates, will only be expected to have about 4% market share in 2027. It’s going to be a long time before cloud gaming is even a threat to dedi-device gaming. Even at that, if becoming the dominant way to play years into the future, it doesn’t mean dedi-device gaming dies. Even with movie/show streaming’s rapid growth since 2011, DVD’s etc 10 years later still have a major presence as explained here. By the time these fears “manifest” it’ll be so far into the future, internet access & usage will look so different, making cloud access the only thing that makes sense.
To sum up these reasons, it’s a lack of understanding and ability to look past the first 5 minutes of now from a technological stand-point, at the root of the dog-sh… articles lol. Today’s journalism is full of fancy words, innuendo and conjecture. Very rarely is it embedded in due diligence and looking beyond “how I feel”. Therefore you don’t get an insightful look into a growing medium. Instead, you are unadulterated with hyperbolic journal entries from some new English major’s silod thought process. Solution: stop listening to the writers. Listen to the gamers. Here’s a list of insightful gamers who better understand the product. Some takes are good, some bad. Nonetheless you get well rounded takes, and not just some journos conjecture disguised as matter of fact.
My colleagues have a long way to go before they cure what ails their misfires on Stadia. When they do, it’ll look something like “… Stadia pulls itself from the brink of depth” and “… to our utter amazement Stadia pulls off the impossible”. None of which will be true. What will be true is Stadia and the other successful cloud platforms just followed the data. They didn’t try too hard to be what they’re not, platforms that can “take out” dedi-devices. When the time was right, and trust was there, they simply improved the output to meet demand. All the while, many in the mainstream media were just too disconnected from the product to understand and report so.
Hardcore gamer, who hates media bias in the community. Started off with the NAF team pushing separate system co-op. After dealing with the system fanboys, he’s shifted his goals to ensuring the hardcore gaming consumer is best informed as possible.