TECH NEWS – For a technology backed by Alphabet, Google Stadia had a tiny market share.
Google Stadia’s cloud gaming service was shut down in January. Although Google handled the process well and tried to compensate users reasonably, the exact reasons for the move were unknown until today. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made headlines by saying it would oppose Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. As part of this, it has published various game industry statistics. Among them is the market for cloud-based games. Painful reading for most companies in the sector, except – funnily enough – Microsoft.
The CMA’s preliminary findings include a section on cloud gaming, which gives statistics on how many people have used various cloud gaming services.
It does not give exact numbers but shows the market share of each service in percentage terms based on monthly active users for the period 2021-2022. The report clarifies that these figures are based on information provided directly by the companies concerned. These percentages also reflect global usage, not just the UK audience.
The breakdown is as follows. The xCloud designation includes Microsoft’s various services, most notably Game Pass, and is likely behind the incredible growth seen here.
Cloud gaming market share in 2021:
- xCloud: 20-30%
- PlayStation Cloud Gaming: 30-40%
- Nvidia GFN: 20-30%
- Google Stadia 5-10%
Cloud gaming market share in 2022
- xCloud: 60-70%
- PlayStation Cloud Gaming: 10-20%
- NVIDIA GFN: 10-20%
- Google Stadia: 0-5%
- Amazon Luna: 0-5%
Stadia started off quite well at the time. But then the user numbers seem to have collapsed. It is noteworthy that Stadia’s data for 2022 only lasts until July of that year. This means that the announcement of the closure of the service (which took place in September 2022) had no impact on these figures. The 0-5% is pretty rough.
Nvidia and PlayStation produced slightly better figures, and while both retain a significant market share of 10-20%, it is understandable why Microsoft’s growth here has caught the attention of the CMA: a company with a 60-70% share in a still-forming industry seems like a monopoly.
However, the figures should be treated with caution. Even if they are based on data from the companies concerned. The first is that these figures include services with a cloud-based gaming element, such as Xbox Game Pass, but do not reflect whether users of such packages have used the cloud-based gaming element. The CMA also believes that Sony may have overestimated its market share in 2021 and 2022. It has double counted the number of people subscribed to PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now.
However, the essential thing that the CMA considers relevant to the Activision Blizzard acquisition is that Stadia, even with Google behind it, has not been able to make a big enough dent in the cloud gaming market to remain viable.
In fact, it rather brutally lays out why, saying that the evidence suggests that Google’s failure of Stadia was “caused at least in part by a lack of gaming content, which was connected to its use of a Linux OS”.
These figures come from a reliable source. However, it is still not a bad idea to be cautious. The CMA itself lists its reservations at length. It isn’t easy to see exactly what each service offers. Or what users will or will not pay for. But one thing is sure. We are still in the heyday of cloud gaming. But Microsoft is already holding a pretty steady lead.