Failure, innovation, management, Software

RIP Google Stadia

– An opportunity squandered.

RIP Stadia

Google Stadia wasn’t a perfect cloud gaming experience (missing a lot of game titles, multiplayer often impossible to find other players, etc) by any account, but it was more than good enough to enjoy casual gaming without having to buy and manage the PC hardware and software. 

Stadia is however the best effort to make casual AAA-title gaming without a PC or console an enjoyable and frictionless experience to date.

But only two years old, Google has already decided to kill it January 2023.

I guess this is what happens when previously disruptive startups become public corporations: Out the window goes the long-game and everything shifts to short term gains. No vision, no leadership, no will of taking risks beyond the scope of fulfilling career-based KPIs.

Update: I guess I hit close to home:

As a friendly free word of advice;  If you’re intending to disrupt an existing market, don’t apply a two year horizon for it to be even remotely successful. (Or if you only have two years, make sure it has enough funding and priority to actually be able to achieve rapid Horizon 3 scaling.)

The sad-funny part is that even Microsoft is more innovative than Google at this point.

Cloud gaming is obviously the future (lower barrier to consume, hardware homogeneity and stability for game developers, no-cost upgrade cycles for consumers, lower environmental impact for everybody, near-zero cost distribution, etc.). I mean, considering the computing power needed for the Metaverse(s) / AR-Verse(s), it is inevitable — you’re not going to render that locally on your iPhone or on your Quest headset any day soon now.

Now, Stadia isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last to drop out of the cloud gaming race.

NVIDIA (GeForce Now) already copped out by castrating themselves by publisher demands (games you previously bought suddenly disappearing because the publishers’ knee-jerk reactions). IMO, if NVIDIA was serious about cloud gaming, they would have litigated publishers to a settle that would set precedence and benefited consumers — but I deem from their no-contest fold that they are not really in the cloud gaming race at all.

Like Apple’s AppStore, I don’t think you’ll win cloud gaming without winning the devs. And by that, I don’t mean the existing publishers. (No, by all means screw those gatekeepers over for good — They represent most things bad with gaming today.) You cannot and will not win them over as they have every incentive in the world to fight for their status quo. You need the games. The games with mainstream appeal. Games that will bring the gamers. The games with epic experiences. Games like those coming out of the studios of Naughty Dog, Crystal Dynamics, or Rockstar.

You also need the multiplayer games to be multiplayer-playable — which cannot be said about a lot of games played in the cloud (not cross-platform compatible, no critical user mass of cloud-only version yet), which renders them unplayable (e.g. Red Dead Redemption 2 Online is completely unplayable on Stadia as there are no other players being matched to your game).

I’m not getting my hopes up for Amazon Luna (everything Amazon touches turns out mediocre at best) and it’s not even available in Europe (yet?).

I think Steam would be in a good position as they are already in the sales and distribution game, have a large customer base — but it feels like Valve got lost after the Half Life 2 release party and is still trying to find their way home.

Sony bought Gaikai in 2012 (I tried it sometime 2011 and I was very impressed by how I was able to play Crysis 2 on my non-gaming MacMini 2009 with it. It was one of those very rare “DANG! This-is-the-future-right-here” moments.) and has since pretty much squandered the potential as they are too entrenched (witch is a nicer way of saying Sony management have a track record of having their heads too far up their behinds) in their existing Nespresso lock-in business model. I’m not expecting miracles.

Which surprisingly makes me believe Microsoft with its XBOX Live (no Mac app yet — to no one’s surprise) is currently in the best position. It’s a distributor and publisher with its own game dev studios — and it seems (for now) that they are playing for the long game. I’m not sure if they will be willing or able to thoroughly disrupt their hardware / software lock-in model any day soon (hey, throw us a Mac app bone), though. Probably a positioning play for now that affords future optionality.

I’m not getting my hopes up for Ubi/EA/EPIC/etc siloed cloud subscription services. A siloed market represents added inconvenience and added costs (subsidise the publisher for what you don’t want, pay for several silos to get what you want) for the consumers. Besides, some of them got cultural baggage and some have a problematic developer / publisher paradox.

And what about those rent-a-windows-box-in-the-cloud services? Have you ever tried one of these? Don’t get me started. It’s still all of the hassles of actually owning and managing a Windows gaming PC — but with higher latency and frame drops. The pain. The horror.

Personally, I would like to see Apple get over their Pippin complex and just get on with it and own the market. It’s the only media type that is missing from their offerings, IMO. But I’m not getting my hopes up. Knowing Apple, they will probably join the fray if and when the time is right — which is to say probably not any day real soon now. (Come on Apple, you need another “hobby”! Maybe hot on the heels of the Apple AR Glasses?)

OTOH — As another corporate venture gets it chain yanked, it’s leaving the opportunity on the table for the startup with the grander vision and deeper (accessible) pockets and more freedom to operate.

What do you think?

(This article was originally published on LinkedIn 2020.09.30)

Lessons Learned, management, News, Social

Saw the Obermann

So I went to the DNA digital workshop at Deutsche Telekom (DTAG) in Bonn following up the previous workshop in Berlin and yeah, I finally got to see the man – René Obermann – CEO of (DTAG).

DNAdigital @DTAG 2009

The workshop partnered young tech and Internet savvy people from the DNA digital initiative with DTAG decision makers to discuss how their corporation could potentially benefit from and deploy new strategies for e.g. corporate culture and product development.

Sure enough, Obermann is every bit the charismatic leader that you’d expect him to be, but with 30 minutes of his precious time allocated to listen to the summary of our workshop, the possibility of a proper dialogue and discussion was accordingly limited. It was nice to see him take the time, though. Kudos.

It was slightly fascinating to observe the depth that some of the participating employees of DTAG would sink to in the presence of their top dog. It was like a sudden lapse of personal integrity, as if the teeth of the previous biting discussions had all but fallen out. I guess it’s all natural – the presence of the Alpha male and all that jazz – but slightly embarrassing nonetheless. I can’t help but think it would have been more productive for the discussions to not have Obermann present.

My personal conclusion of the workshop was that – although highly interesting topics and people – the Enterprise 2.0 is not my battle. I’m unfortunately not passionate enough about the topic. I have other fish to fry, bones to pick. It was an interesting ride. So long and thanks to everyone for the experience.

As long as enterprises see, in the lack of a better word, Web 2.0 as a trendy afterthought that can be tacked onto existing and outdated models of thought – it’s thanks but no thanks for me.

It is my view that Enterprise 2.0 (whatever that may be to you) involves radical paradigm shifts, by and large incompatible with current enterprise paradigms. Furthermore, I’m convinced that I as an outsider cannot change an enterprise; The real revolution and innovation comes from highly innovative and passionate individuals within the enterprise.

Here’s some more images from the workshop.

Disclaimer: I work for a company that does business with DTAG. However, I'm not getting paid nor am I instructed to write this blog or to participate in the Enterprise2.0 discussion.

gtd, management

Are we getting things done yet?

Don’t you just hate to be told how to do things? I do. Yet, we keep looking for advice on how to be more efficient. I do too. In this post I’ll try to share what I do to get things done. I never actually put it into words before, but after becoming familiar with the likes of David Allen and his Getting Things Done and Merlin Mann‘s Inbox Zero and 43folders, I found some striking resemblances to what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. Watch the inspiring Google Tech Talk presentation held just recently by Mr. Mann below if you haven’t already.

Now this is what I do: I identify if any call, meeting, comment or email requires me to take action(s) as soon as they come to my attention.If no action is needed, I forget about it. It’s either resolved by reading/receiving or the action(s) is required from someone else. I’ll label this as a ‘No action’ action. I share info if appropriate, but only after considering signal to noise. I archive, never delete. (Yes, I’m a veritable digital information hamster.)

Next up I have ‘Immediate action’ – Does it take only a couple of minutes to do? I do it straight away or delegate it to someone that will do it instantly. (Delegating in general usually falls into this category, I would think.) Does it take longer? I let it sit in the inbox to deal with at an opportune moment, later same day. Do the gravity of the action require my immediate and unscheduled attention that will take the focus away from my current schedule? I reshuffle and reschedule current actions and do it now or re delegate, redistribute and/or re prioritise if possible. Archive.

Then there are the ‘Time/place action’, in lack of a better label. (Yes, I’m aware that my labeling is lacking in the sexy department. ;) Is my action needed at or before a certain time? At a certain place? I schedule it as a todo and/or a calendar event by date with timely reminders. I try to group similar actions. Archive.

Finally, there’s the ‘Future action’, a fuzzy nondescript action with no deadline. I keep it in the inbox and let it mature or either upgrade to time/place action or forget about it if someone else will get back to you on the subject at some future point or if it becomes irrelevant and automagically expires. I delegate it if needed/wanted. Archive.

Repeat, rinse and lathe.

With regards to mails, my inbox is my list of todos. I reply at once (‘Immediate action’), reply timed ( ‘Time/place action’), let simmer and mature (‘Future action’) or archive/file at once without reply (‘No action’) or after reply or when irrelevant like outlined above. I keep a minimal of mails in the inbox and try to deal with them all within a workday. There should ideally be no mails in my inbox at the end of the day. I do not keep separate folders for anything other than archiving purposes (tech restraint at my place of work). I do not waste time labeling or tagging emails, if you were wondering. Mails get archived naked.

Keeping physical in and out boxes does not work for me. I’ve tried and failed miserably. I keep physical in/out material annoyingly close to the keyboard on my physical desktop until action taken. This is ridiculous suboptimal, but works for me ™.

Does this make sense to you? I would be thrilled to hear about what you do to get your things done!