Last week if you missed the announcement that Google was shelving Stadia, its streaming gaming service you can be forgiven; the news cycle comes at you fast these days, and it’s easy to miss things even if they would normally be front and center on your radar.
Anyway, the article at The Guardian that I linked does a good job of covering the whys and wherefores behind Google’s decision so I won’t recap it here. Rather I’ll springboard off into talking about it in the context of other, related things.
To paraphrase Alec Baldwin in Glenngary Glen Ross, streaming gaming is a tough racket. It’s even tougher to make it in the streaming game business than streaming video.
Exhibit A is the relative lack of platforms in the gaming space. Really, you have huge incumbents like Sony Playstation and Microsoft XBOX, Stream, and Nintendo. Compare that to I-don’t-even-know-how-many streaming video platforms we’re up to now.
Even Apple, another brand that like Google has massive resources hasn’t really set the world on fire with their service Apple Arcade.
On that note, when Apple Arcade launched I agreed to the free three-month trial. My kids played around with it for a while and then sort of forgot about it.
I sort of forgot about it too.
Then this past week I was going through my Apple account on my phone and noticed Apple Arcade among all my other subscriptions. At that point I couldn’t remember the last time I saw my kids playing on it.
So I made a mental note to ask my kids about their interest level in it. After all, if they never play it why am I paying $5.99 a month for it?
The very next day, I kid you not, I opened my phone and went to settings, and there was a red dot informing me there was a notification.
What was that notification?
Apple wanted to offer me a free three-month trial to Apple Arcade.
So clearly, CLEARLY my phone is spying on me (spoiler alert: I already knew that), noticed that my subscription to Apple Arcade was on the bubble and decided to incent me to keep it. Or at the very least get me to forget about it again and keep billing me.
Anyway, that illustrates the point I wanted to make: that most households need or want even fewer gaming platforms than they need or want streaming video platforms.
Speaking for us, for streaming video we’ve got Apple TV, Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, and probably at least one other that I’ve forgotten.
Whereas for gaming we’ve currently got a Nintendo Switch, Apple Arcade (grudgingly), and Steam account that hardly gets used.
So at least for us, video services outnumber gaming services. I’m sure there are households where the ratios are reversed.
For whatever reason, my kids have never been interested in having more than one console at a time. Prior to the switch they had a Playstation 4 for about a year, and an XBOX for about a year before that. So far, coming up on 2 years they’ve said they prefer the gaming content they get from Nintendo.
I know there are households that run multiple console platforms, we’re just not one of them. And I’d guess we’re not alone.
I’d hazard a guess that notwithstanding the technical resources (not to mention the money) required to build out a competitive gaming platform, the ambient level of interest in target households to not only try it, but to keep paying for it, is a key factor in whether or not a new platform can be successful.