STORY: After huge debate surrounding the viability of Stadia, post an Xcloud/Gamepass bundle announcement, we conducted a study. The study highlights some major misconceptions on the cloud gaming community. Due to this, it shows why Xcloud vs Stadia talks right now are foolish.
Leading up to July 16th 2020, there was a lot of hype built up regarding an Xbox announcement. Then the announcement finally came. The headline sustabol of it happened to be that Microsoft was officially bundling in Xcloud with Xbox Gamepass Ultimate at $15 USD.
In response, mainstream media was abuzz. For the most part on social media, content creators and pundits associated this to Stadia’s demise. This belief was based off the notion that Gamepass bundled with Xcloud gives cloud gamers the cheapest option to play games. Therefore its the best all around option. That sounds spot on, right? Or rather, could this just be more of the proverbial water cooler “Stadia is about to die” talk we’ve heard since launch? Well, research heavily favors the latter.
There are origins of this. This is not new. For full transparency, we were quite involved in one of the attempts to take this beyond water cooler talk and make this into fruition. Windows Central released an article proclaiming the demise of Stadia due to Xcloud gaining something. What was that something? Destiny 2. This is despite the fact that the Destiny 2 version Xcloud players were getting:
- Performed worse
- Looked worse
- Was heavily scaled down
- Lacked the content that came at no extra cost to early adopters of Stadia at the time
- At the time of the WC article, Destiny 2 was no longer the overwhelming favorite on the platform
Despite all that, gamers outside of the cloud gaming community began to believe this montra. It is then when we via the Stadia Dosage platform stepped in and highlighted all that was misconceived in the article. Immediately thereafter, you saw a huge shift in the false attacks on Stadia. Major voices in the anti Stadia community shifted their grievances. They moved to game library, exclusives and price model as their “issue” oppose to the now recognized superior performance. So again, the death to Stadia rhetoric is not new. What also is not new is it being debunked.
On the heels of the mainstream gaming media seemingly overhyping additions/changes to Xcloud, we’ve come across data to the contrary. Data suggests that Xcloud’s inclusion of gamepass (or vice versa however you want to align it) is not enough to raise serious engagement with the true cloud gaming demographic… Stadia’s current demographic during the first 12 months of early access.
To understand what is meant by that, you have to understand the demographic. Cloud gamers are ones who want access to all the same games/experiences dedicated device gamers (PC/Consoles) want. They just want it via platform(s) that’s:
- Provides comparable performance to dedicated devices
- On as many different type of screens as possible
- With as less “friction” (loading, active patches to wait through)
- As much convenience/portability possible
The common misconception is that cloud gamers simply want to play on portable devices (phones and tablets) as an auxiliary to hardware; and they just want that portable experience to be smooth enough. This couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. To illustrate this, we conducted a study across social media. The results are staggering. This study was done with gamers on the major Cloud gaming SM hubs (Stadia, GFN, Shadow PC Reddits) and on Twitter with over a 1K total engagements.
As you can see below – an overwhelming majority of cloud gamers polled prefer to do their cloud gaming via a TV, PC or Laptop. Only 11% prefer phones or tablets.
Why is this important? It’s important because Xcloud currently is only playable on phones and tablets. It’s also only at 720p and 30 fps only for most titles. According to a recent talk with Phil Spencer, we may not even see Xcloud available on more screens for a while. In addition, according to info obtained by Tom Warren of the Verge, we may not see comparable performance to GFN, Shadow PC let alone Stadia, just as long. Those offerings fall very short of expectations from the cloud gaming demographic… as you can see.
Then why the mass claims that Xcloud is in position to knock out Stadia, who arguably is a leader within the cloud gaming community? The answer’s simple…
The answer is simply this. The mainstream media as we speak, is disconnected from the cloud gaming community. I get it. The mainstream game media is comprised of dedi-device gamers who see no appeal to gaming away from their machines. They may show sympathy towards an add on service that allows you to do so. They may also talk about ” well in the future…” cloud’s potential dominance, but as long as it doesn’t threaten their “machines” in the here and now, they’re ok with that. Stadia at its core bucks that convention. That’s at the heart of the loathing. They’ll tell you it was the launch or the rollout. However there is hard proof to the contrary. As soon as they discovered it was solely cloud, and not a subscription based model to serve as a supplemental service, the gloves were off.
Therefore if you are a cloud gamer already, or you are looking to become one due to cost retaints, convenience etc., you can not go to the mainstream gaming media to be informed. For sake of hashtag #BeingInTheKnow we highly recommend a few sources that may better suit your fact building on cloud gaming. To start you off we recommend:
These are all great source and just keep looking, there are plenty more.
That said, people may attempt to dismiss this as an anti-Xbox article meant to bring the platform down. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. Personally, I want the competition. It will be good for cloud gaming if Microsoft can provide a high performing cloud platform that does include Gamepass. The issue is from a tech standpoint. If everyone praises Xcloud in its current state (the lowest common denominator) as the pinnacle of cloud gaming, that devolves the aspirations/motivations of what cloud tech is truly capable of. It makes cloud gaming simply about loading your phone tablet with a bunch of mediocre performing games. Even in its infancy, cloud gaming is well beyond that threshold. We gain nothing in the long run holding it back.