Level 29: And the Award for Best Console Goes To... Not Stadia
Stadia Mishaps, Twitch Studio, FaZe Clan, and More!
Stadia may have had the worst (console?) launch ever: It’s currently missing most of its core features, encountering many of the problems — e.g. latency issues — users were dreading, and falling flat on its core offerings., Stadia’s release feels premature and hasty, and there haven’t been many positive reviews.
“Here’s my pitch for Stadia at this moment: a digital storefront from which players can purchase games to stream on certain compatible devices with a number of complicated, sometimes confusing, limitations. This isn’t a subscription service that unlocks hundreds of free games like Xbox Game Pass, nor is it as feature-rich as Sony’s streaming service PlayStation Now. Players need to buy each game on Stadia at retail prices.” - Chris Plante, Polygon
Our experience also has been quite negative: the controller delivery date has been delayed until mid-December and we haven’t even received our Stadia code to play the titles that have been released (@Fawzi, a self-proclaimed casual gamer, doesn’t even know what to play with if he doesn’t have his controller). Microsoft has quickly taken advantage of this opportune chaos by announcing 50 titles on its xCloud service, a competitor to Stadia, that it hopes to release in 2020.
To bottom line it, Google’s intention isn’t to be perfect from the get-go; rather, it’s approaching this from an iterative, growth perspective. Start here and end up where it’s working. But this depends on their ability to move quickly and to support a developer ecosystem; otherwise competitors will overtake them. For now, Google’s cloud gaming is back from cloud nine on Earth.
On a separate note, here are some highlights from The Game Theorists’s recent interview with Youtube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, at the inaugural Youtube Game Creators Summit. Important topics covered include: demonetization, why Youtube plants to focus on Live content, why Youtube should be the place for content creators, and global legislation.
Allow us to draw a comparison to Instagram, which at its start only had the photo upload functionality. Now, users can edit photos before uploading to make them more customizable for their viewership. Filters like Calrendon have even entered our modern lexicon. Through Twitch Studio, Twitch elevates its product experience from only broadcasting to also providing users with the ability to edit and create their content during/before their stream. This is an important step forward for Twitch — and content creation in general — because it lowers the barrier to entry for anyone to start broadcasting their own content, removing the friction.
Twitch wins out in two ways: (1) it increases the amount of content that will be available on Twitch and (2) makes it easier for anyone to become a high-quality content creator on the platform. On Twitch, consumers are more likely to tune in to higher quality streams, giving creators the ability to mimic a professional stream, and naturally boosting consumer interest in watching a diverse array of streams. Compare this to Tik Tok, where people will watch any content so long as it fits a certain memable mold. Twitch is being smart about developing their talent pipeline and interest.
Speaking of content creators, the Oscars for esports happened this past weekend. Lots of big names on the stage and industry heavyweights present at the event. We love how extra the games industry is and understand the importance of recognition as a form of motivation. Honest plug here: with all the tournaments, conventions, conferences, etc. we feel inundated with these types of events.
This is an interesting NYT feature on FaZe Clan, one of the largest and most well-known global esports organizations. The way NYT describes their culture makes them out to be fraternity meets skater meets LA club. And yet, their success, passion and diligence is unmissable.
FaZe Clan Instagram Followers: 7.5 million. 100T Instagram Followers: 571 Thousand.
Where they got their start: Call of Duty live streaming
FaZe is a lifestyle
What this article does really well is capture FaZe Clan’s roots in gaming, but holistically present their transformation into popular culture, entertainment and media. This takes the form of the house they all live in, the retail pop up they recently unveiled, hosting Project X level parties, and most importantly, content creation. Though they prioritize gaming as a day-to-day directive, their true north is to become a billion-dollar media business by grooming content creators.
The gaming world rejoiced and quickly did a double-take over Valve’s announcement that they were continuing one of their most famous franchises, Half-Life… in VR. For a variety of reasons, players of Half-Life loved the franchise: physics manipulations, the first-person story line, the graphics and sounds, and the mechanics. Perhaps these factors will also play into Half-Life Alyx.
But as it stands, although Valve’s Index VR Kit is top of the line (including the hand controllers), VR sets are still costly and inaccessible — that is, most people don’t have one, it hasn’t quite caught on in the cultural zeitgeist. Valve has a strong case that it needs to prove: the case for buying the new games needs to outweigh the opportunity cost of a new device. If the game is as good as its predecessors, it could further pave the way for VR adoption.
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