Xbox’s Phil Spencer comments on Stadia shutting down

After Google announced the closure of Stadia, Xbox’s Phil Spencer offers some comments about the closure in a new interview.

Talking to the edge (Across Nerf report) This week, Xbox chief Phil Spencer touched on topics including a shelved “Keystone” cloud gaming device, making Call of Duty a cross-platform game as Microsoft tries to acquire Activision Blizzard and more. He also made comments regarding the closure of Stadia, the first direct comments Phil Spencer has made about Google’s decision.

Spencer first touched on closing Stadia in an interview with Wall Street Journal Last month, he hinted that he felt part of the reason Xbox Game Pass’s cloud gaming option has seen more success is due to its business model of being an extension of consoles and PC rather than a platform of its own.

In this latest interview, Spencer reflects on some of those comments, saying Google’s choice to launch Stadia as a “streaming subscription” [built] About purchasing games early in introducing new technology “Xbox didn’t feel it had to start. Instead, it felt the new experience should “start with something that has a lower marginal cost to the customer”.

Spencer went on to say:

…we added [cloud gaming] to console and PC, so we gave people options in devices where they actually like to play video games. If you don’t want to wait for this game to download to your console, just play from the cloud, or you can try to figure it out and make this stuff available on PC. Not to make it something against console or PC, but to embrace where people like to go to play, expand it and give them more options, including the business model of how the client builds its library.

Google Stadia introduced a free tier just a few months after its launch, eventually launching a library of completely free games and trials, but it started with a business model that required a subscription to Stadia Pro. And the Buy physical hardware as well as games. Despite Google’s best attempts, it was the image that Stadia didn’t quite shake.

Despite this confusion, Xbox’s Phil Spencer believed that Google did a “good job” with Stadia, specifically looking at the technology that supports it, also saying that the hardware connected to Stadia was “robust”.

I have a lot of friends who worked on Stadia and were there in its infancy. I love the technology investment they’ve made. I thought they did a good job of building a cloud platform, and that the hardware they had was powerful.

He also made it clear that he believes Google’s efforts in building Stadia won’t be completely futile. It sees potential, as has Google, too, in similar ideas being used to power demos or bring games to players via YouTube, Twitch, or TikTok.

But giving creators the option to instantly offer a game to players, whether they’re watching YouTube or Twitch or TikTok or whatever, or as a way to distribute demos or builds to get feedback – I think there’s a real use for cloud infrastructure that could allow creators to distribute gameplay to their customers almost immediately. Not to exclude people who download and play games, but as another option for them. Certainly, I see it, and I believe that what Google has created will find real application there. No doubt about it.

In Google’s original presentation of Stadia, the company touted the ability for players to launch a game from a YouTube ad or a link in a trailer. This functionality arrived at the right time, only augmented by the platform’s free trials, but has not been widely used in any way or even in ways that competing platforms have since.

Regarding Stadia’s closure, and if Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming can meet the same fate, Phil Spencer said he considers “running a successful business a very dangerous part” of his job, and that Xbox is a profitable business. He added that he “loves the different projects we’re doing in xCloud, Game Pass, and the PC and mobile apps.”

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