Google Stadia missed its internal targets for controller sales and monthly users by "hundreds of thousands" of users, per a new report from Bloomberg.
In a new report by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, Google's Stadia apparently missed its internal targets for both controller sales and monthly subscribers to the Stadia platform. Central to this outcome is how Stadia was rolled out to consumers, with tradition Google execs championing the approach taken to roll out successful products like Gmail, versus Phil Harrison and Stadia execs who came from more traditional console gaming roots.
According to Schreier's reports, developers within the Stadia team suggested rolling out Stadia as a beta, mirroring the successful launch of Gmail years before. However, Schreier states there was resistance from Phil Harrison and "others on the Stadia leadership team," against this, wanting to follow the more traditional console launch route.
Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming executive, is known best for working with Sony during the launch of the PlayStation 3, as well as Microsoft during its Xbox One launch - both, as Schreier puts it, "their worst console launches."
Harrison and the Stadia leadership team won out, pushing the console replacement concept and tying Google Stadia to hardware that required players to pony up $129.99 to get the Founder's package, which included the Stadia controller as well as a Chromecast Ultra. This is before players even bought their first game, which Stadia still requires for their games (though some games are included in Stadia's premium Pro subscription).
Additionally, for all the flashy press conferences and promised, Stadia launched without core features propped up by Harrison, such as the State Share. Schreier states that while Stadia's launch was a "tepid" one, there was optimism within the Stadia development house that it could be turned around with the exclusives Google's game development teams were working on. Stadia shelled out tens of millions of dollars as well on enticing games like Red Dead Redemption 2 to the platform, however the team was hard at work on games that would take advantage of Stadia's cloud nature.
Last year, to push Stadia's version of Cyberpunk 2077, the platform was giving away Stadia controllers (and Chromecast Ultras), presumably the ones that were left over from those missed sales targets.
When Stadia launched in 2019, we reviewed the platform, calling it "Good, but unifinished," with our Hardwares Editor Chris Coke saying he wasn't sure it was worth running out and buying right away, citing missing features and a sparse game library.
Earlier this month it was announced that Google was shutting down its internal development studios, pivoting to offering Stadia as a platform for third party publishers instead of creating their own unique experiences. You can read the full report by Bloomberg here.