When Google announced last year that it was closing down Stadia because the cloud gaming service hadn’t “gained enough traction,” it wasn’t abundantly clear exactly how the platform stacked up against competitors like Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming. Now, statistics shared by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) show that Stadia had a significantly smaller presence than rival services, with an estimated zero to 5 percent share of the cloud gaming market in 2022 (via 9to5Google).
The CMA said that its findings are based on global information provided directly by each company. The charts don’t include actual figures, and Google has remained tight-lipped regarding how many subscribers Stadia actually had. However, Insider reports that the service had around 750,000 monthly active users in 2020, falling short of its 1 million target for that year. The CMA’s findings indicate that Stadia held just a 5 to 10 percent share of the cloud gaming market by 2021 after launching in 2019 and was already being dominated by Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce Now, and PlayStation cloud before losing ground in 2022.
The CMA study was conducted as part of the regulator’s investigation into Microsoft’s intent to acquire Activision Blizzard. Throughout its provisional findings report, the CMA claims that the merger could prevent other platforms from offering a competitive game library should Microsoft make franchises exclusive to its Xbox Cloud Gaming service and suggests that Stadia’s lack of content contributed to its demise. “We provisionally believe that content is particularly important to the success of a cloud gaming service,” reads the report. “Particularly considering Google’s failure with Stadia, which our evidence suggests was caused at least in part by a lack of gaming content, which was connected to its use of a Linux OS.”
The CMA claims that Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming held between 60 and 70 percent of the cloud gaming market by 2022, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. There are a ton of asterisks around that number, which the CMA spends two full pages addressing. For example, Microsoft and Sony’s game streaming services are available as part of larger packages, such as Game Pass Ultimate and PlayStation Plus Premium. Users who have access to streaming services through these packages may not actually utilize them, as they’re viewed as a free add-on but were counted toward each company’s market share by the CMA regardless.
The survey may not accurately reflect actual market share, as some companies bundle their cloud gaming services with other products
The regulator additionally says it likely overestimated Sony’s market share in 2021 and 2022 by double-counting some people who had used its game streaming and were subscribed to both PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. It’s also difficult to accurately compare the figures, as the data was collected at different times — Xbox Cloud Gaming figures being taken between January and September of 2022 while GeForce Now only provides data for January, for example.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that Microsoft, Sony, and Nvidia dominate the market for cloud gaming services, with Google taking home the scraps.
Amazon Luna also reportedly held between zero and 5 percent of the cloud gaming market as of September 2022 after launching in March 2022. The service has made efforts to tempt new users to the platform using free trials but has limited reach, as it’s still currently restricted to US customers. If Stadia’s closure is anything to go by, Amazon may have its work cut out for it to avoid Luna from sharing a similar fate.