Following Google’s announcement of Stadia’s closure, Xbox’s Phil Spencer comments on the closure in a new interview.
Talk to The edge (Going through The Nerf Report) this week, Xbox chief Phil Spencer touched on topics including the shelved “Keystone” cloud gaming device, keeping Call of Duty cross-platform play as Microsoft tries to acquire Activision Blizzard, and more. He also made comments regarding Stadia’s shutdown, the first direct comments Phil Spencer has made around Google’s decision.
Spencer first talked about Stadia shutting down in an interview with WSJ last month, hinting that it felt partly responsible for why Xbox Game Pass’s cloud gaming option has been more successful comes down to its business model of being an extension of consoles and the PC rather than a full-fledged platform.
In this latest interview, Spencer mirrors some of those comments, saying Google’s choice to start Stadia as a “streaming subscription [built] around buying games early on when introducing new technology” was not how Xbox thought it should start. Rather, he felt that the new experience should “start with something that has a lower marginal cost to a customer.”
Spencer went on to say:
…We have added [cloud gaming] to console and PC, so we gave people options in devices where they already enjoy playing video games. If you don’t want to wait for this game to download on console, just play from cloud, or you can try to figure it out and make these things available on PC. Not to make it something against console or PC, but to embrace where people like to go play, to expand and give them more options, including the business model of how a customer builds their library.
Google Stadia offered a free tier just months after launch and eventually launched a library of completely free games and trials, but started with a business model that required a Stadia Pro subscription. and the purchase of physical equipment as well as games. Despite Google’s best attempts, it was an image that Stadia never quite shook off.
Despite this setback, Xbox’s Phil Spencer thinks Google has done a “good job” with Stadia, looking specifically at the technology that powered it, further claiming that the Stadia-connected hardware is “strong”.
I have a lot of friends who worked on Stadia and were there at the start. I love the technology investment they made. I thought they had done a good job creating a cloud platform and the hardware they had was solid.
He also pointed out that he believes Google’s efforts to build Stadia won’t prove completely wasted. He sees potential, as Google has too, in similar ideas used to power demos or deliver games to gamers via YouTube, Twitch or TikTok.
But giving creators the ability to deliver a game instantly to gamers whether they’re watching YouTube, Twitch, TikTok or whatever, or as a way to distribute demos or builds for feedback – I think there’s a real utility for a cloud infrastructure that can allow creators to distribute gameplay to their customers almost instantly. Not to the exclusion of people who download and play the games, but as another option for them. Absolutely, I see that, and I think what Google has built will find real application there. No doubt about it.
In Google’s original pitch for Stadia, the company touted the ability for gamers to launch a game from an advertisement on YouTube or a link in a trailer. This feature arrived on time, only bolstered by the platform’s free trials, but it hasn’t been widely used by any means or even in the way competing platforms have since.
Regarding Stadia shutting down, and whether Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming could meet the same fate, Phil Spencer said he takes “running a successful business to be a very serious part” of his job. , and that Xbox is a profitable business. He added that he “likes the different businesses we have with xCloud, Game Pass, PC app and mobile.”
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