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Here's Likely Why You Didn't See Stadia At Google IO

Stadia 1
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Earlier this week Google held its annual Google IO developer conference which had announcements on just about everything Google makes, except for Stadia.

Google’s cloud gaming service was nowhere to be found. And that might come as a little bit of a shock to some. Stadia is a Google product after all. And one that you might argue needs as much attention as possible right now.

The thing is, Google IO doesn’t really feel like the right place for any major Stadia announcements. Stadia was in fact at IO, although not in any major capacity. Save for an AMA session called Flutter In Production With Stadia and Google Pay, there were no big events or sessions about the product at all.

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There’s likely a good reason for that too. One beyond the fact that IO is probably not the right fit. Here’s why I think Google didn’t bring Stadia to IO. I also want to preface things by stating that nothing in this post is any admission of knowledge of actual events. This is an editorial piece with predictions on where I personally think Stadia will show up next and why it didn’t really have a place at Google’s conference this week.

Stadia wasn’t at Google IO because Google was saving announcements for later

Much like Sony is doing by skipping E3 again this year to instead hold its own online event, Google probably skipped any Stadia announcements at IO so it can hold its own event for Stadia later on.

It already does this with Stadia Connect. Which is its online virtual event that it’s been holding for big Stadia announcements since before the product launched. It makes much more sense for Google to present things about Stadia at one of these. As opposed to a big three-day conference like IO.

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It allows Google to focus entirely on Stadia without having to split its attention to other, more established products. Why divide time and attention when you can instead have a separate event for a single product?

With Stadia having its own event, like with Stadia Connect, it’s all about Stadia. Not about Stadia, and Google Maps, and Android, and Android TV, and Android Auto, and Wear OS etc. Google could have also had nothing to share about Stadia. But I think the more likely scenario is that it simply wanted to save everything for later. At a time when it made more sense to showcase more new features and upcoming releases.

Where we could see new announcements

Stadia announcement screencap DG
Stadia announcement screencap DG

There’s a few different possibilities here. But, one of them makes more sense than the others and is probably the most likely. Assuming Google isn’t too worried about the difference in time between its last Stadia Connect event and any upcoming ones.

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If you’re wondering about when and where Google may hold announcements for Stadia, I’d peg GDC 2021 as the most likely time. GDC 2019 is when Stadia was announced. The conference will be held virtually this year, so Google wouldn’t even have to physically be at a specific location.

It could easily pre-record (or livestream) any announcements for GDC and have them ready. It could have a Stadia Connect ready to happen alongside GDC but not necessarily as part of GDC. Google also had tons of development and other announcement videos at GDC 2020. And when you factor this in,  GDC 2021 makes the most sense.

A second possibility is that Google could have major Stadia announcements set for E3. Which is another big video game conference. Though this seems less likely given that GDC is where Google held announcements and sessions around Stadia the last two years.

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The last possible scenario is that Google could forego both of these events and hold a Stadia Connect at a different time. Separate from these conferences.

What to expect

The possibilities could include anything from just game announcements to game announcements and a bunch of new features. That being said, if there are any big Stadia events coming up in the near future, expect them to be mostly about games.

Many of Google’s Stadia Connect videos have focused mainly on new games being added to the platform. This allowed Google to fill the time with exciting trailers. And a larger game library is something Stadia has always needed. That still holds true today, although the library of available titles has expanded a lot compared to Stadia’s first year.

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There’s no guarantee of course that Google won’t have new features to announce. Or that it won’t have something else up its sleeve. With Stadia Games & Entertainment now shut down, Google did say that it will be focusing more on developing partnerships with third-party game studios.

Considering this, perhaps Google will share something along the lines of new partnerships with big studios. Though it’s anyone’s guess, really. I also think it’s important to temper expectations. Don’t go into any potential events expecting Google to announce anything and everything.