Stadia Status, February 2021: One step forward and three steps back

by Joseph K. Clark

Comparing how I feel about Stadia right now to how I felt at the end of 2020 / beginning of 2021 is giving me a severe case of whiplash. In my Stadia 2021 review to kick off this year, I explained how the cloud gaming service was “finally worth it” and that it was “starting to prove itself as a legitimate gaming platform.” I felt perfect about those statements at the time I wrote them. Stadia Status is our monthly recap of what’s new and what’s next for the Stadia platform. Let’s dive in!

Stadia Status February 2021 Recap

Stadia Status

If Stadia wasn’t on life support yet, we’ve got to assume it’s getting dangerously close. Despite significant success stories such as many of the best Stadia games released recently, like the comparatively excellent version of Cyberpunk 2077, great ports of games like Hitman 3 and Madden NFL 21, and upcoming big releases like Outriders slated to launch on the same day and date as other platforms, it’s impossible to not look towards the future with significant trepidation.

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Unfortunately, the goodwill from those games isn’t enough to overshadow the recent negativity. As you probably heard, Google shut down the entire Stadia Games & Entertainment division, canceled real game projects, experienced horrendous leadership and poor budgeting, got hit with lawsuits, and generally saw everything go about as poorly as you could predict.

Even if you ignore all of those highly negative things that have happened, though, which would be very irresponsible to do, it hasn’t been an excellent month for Stadia on the game release front, either. Just like January, February was a slow month for Stadia. There hasn’t been anything big enough to dominate the conversation beyond other headlines besides a few surprise Pro games and an assortment of new releases to tide people over.

Stadia Status March 2021 and beyond

According to Google, over 100 games are on the way for the remainder of 2021. That’s a lot of fun and, based on the existing library of content, it stands to reason that the majority of these games will be pretty good. But following that same line of reasoning, it also stands to reason that the majority of these games will release on other platforms as well and/or will be old by the time they hit Stadia.

Getting a high volume of quality content has never been an issue for Stadia. The point is that most of it is old by the time it comes out on the cloud gaming service, so people have already played those games, or they’re old enough that asking new game prices feels unreasonable. Playing catch-up against the PC gaming ecosystem and the decades of lead time, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all have proved more challenging than Google expected.

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