Google working hard to attract publishers to Stadia, says CEO

Hands-on time with the technology “completely wins people over”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said the company’s working hard to attract publishers to its upcoming cloud game streaming platform Stadia.

Speaking during parent company Alphabet’s first quarter earnings call, which was transcribed by Seeking Alpha, Pichai suggested some potential partners have approached Stadia with caution, but that offering hands-on time with the technology is helping Google sell its ambitious plans for the platform.

Pitching Stadia to investors and analysts on the call, Pichai said it “revolutionises the way gamers access and play their favourite games and brings together the best of Google’s infrastructure and open ecosystem approach”.

“With Stadia,” he added, “you will be able to play advanced AAA games on any type of screen instantly without ever needing to download the game or install updates.”

Asked how conversations with major publishers are progressing and whether there’s been any negative feedback, Pichai said: “We see genuine excitement because I think they see the opportunity for a shift, a point of inflection, but they realised the technical challenge of pulling something like this off.

“But once they get their hands on with the technology and then they see the experience, I think [it] completely wins people over”, he added.

“And so we are having conversations across the board and I think people are definitely engaging in a very committed way and they are investing in it and so it’s up to us to bring it all together and have a compelling service later this year”, Pichai said.

“But I think, not pushback per se, but they want to see our commitment, which is what we demonstrate and they are working hard to make the investments on their side. And so it’s a big joint effort and it’s working well.”

Speaking recently about Microsoft’s plans to launch its own cloud game streaming platform, Project xCloud, Xbox marketing executive Mike Nichols claimed Stadia is lacking the content required to attract a significant user base.

“Emerging competitors like Google have a cloud infrastructure, a community with YouTube, but they don’t have the content,” he said, suggesting Microsoft’s catalogue of first-party IP, plus its long-standing relationships with software makers and publishers, give it the upper hand over the new player in the market.

In addition to wooing third parties, Google is working on its own exclusive Stadia games at a new first-party studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, which is headed by industry veteran Jade Raymond.

Earlier this month, Sony revealed that its game streaming service PlayStation Now has some 700,000 subscribers, with membership growing by around 40% each year since its launch in 2014.

Interestingly, chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki noted that since the September 2018 introduction of a feature enabling PlayStation Now users to download PS4 games in order to play them offline “without worrying about their network connection”, gameplay time spent on downloaded PS4 titles was “double that of streamed titles”.

Google vice president Phil Harrison has said that to play Stadia games in 4K at 60 frames per second, a minimum connection speed of 30 megabits per second is recommended.

VGC’s first Stadia hands-on left us with a lot more questions than answers.