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.
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)
You might already know of my bootstrapped startup Gauss – The People Magnet. What some of you might not know is that I teach entrepreneurial students at universities, young hopeful startups at NEXT, keynoting events and F500* corporates that as a startup entrepreneur you need to:
Talk to everybody about everything all of the time
Expose yourself and your ideas to as many people (your potential users and customers) as soon as possible
Acknowledge and understand that no smart person or company will ever copy you before you have a validated and proven business model
I have come to realize that it is about embarrassingly high time that I start practice what I preach. It’s about time to start eating my own dog food. I’m spontaneously throwing everything out there to see what happens when you shine as much light from as many sources as possible on your ideas and assumptions instead of having them worshipped inside the cult of the stealth startup. I don’t expect much and I have nothing to lose but my vanity, so here we go.
I hereby declare death to the cult of stealth startups and pledge and acknowledge that I will:
Publish and solicit feedback as broadly as possible on any and all prototypes before writing a single line of code (e.g. as features described in text, click-dummies or paper wireframes)
Be ready to face any and all critique in public in any form or way, the more and more brutally honest the better
Risk the embarrassment of being ridiculed and failing spectacularly in public
Risk having my ideas stolen by competitors
Only exercise the option to stop sharing everything in public, if and only if, I have a validated product-market fit or when I have a validated business model
As of now, I’m going to publish all prototypes instead of following the cult of the stealth startup. I LOVE your feedback going forward and you can use this form (so you can remain anonymous) or feel free to leave comments on this post in public. Be brutally honest. I’m ready to take it! :)
Here’s a scrappy video walk-through (and in no way am I apologizing for the poor quality, because I also preach it is better to have something instead of nothing!):
And here are two click dummies for you to test on your iPhone for yourself (they should sort of work on Android too, though).
The main click-dummy with core concepts. (Try this first for basic concepts and tap Robert Scoble to test features as his profile is the only interactive one)
This next click dummy will show you what happens when you get a notification from Gauss. (BTW, profiles are inactive, not tap-able in this version)
Let me know what you think. Is this a great idea or worst ever? Should we all remain loyal followers of the dark cult of the stealth startup or is it about time to let the public sunshine in? I shared this post on HN so feel free to continue the discussion there too.
*Caveat: Obviously, if you’re inside a F500 corporation, sharing within your enterprise is assumed, not necessarily with the public. That would obviously open up a can of whoop-ass from your legal department. Enterprise is funny that way.
Update: It seems Safari 5.1+ together with OSX Lion’s “All My Files” Finder view implements something similar as I suggested. Funny!
Update 2: It seems Apple did add the animation for the downloaded file swooshing down to the download folder with OSX Mountain Lion. Double fun! Coincidence, or is somebody in Cupertino listening? :)
Update 3: 2023 saw Google Chrome adapt a very similar UX. Lulz.
After a recent discussion on @twitter with @limi and @philikon on the difference between the Firefox and Chrome Internet browsers, I started thinking about why I still find both browsers lacking in the download experience department. Still, at least they both let us use an internet connection, be it one from infinity dish or any other ISP, to browse freely. Everyone has their chosen browser, the one they started using many years ago and have become so accustomed to it that changing over to one that “practically everyone uses” wouldn’t feel right. It is understandable, and now with people able to check out a mozilla vpn review (firefox) and Chrome vpn reviews, they can keep themselves safe online in the best way possible. I know I sidetracked there, but it is worth it to know more no matter which browser you’re siding with today.
For an excellent primer on how the different Internet browsers currently handle downloads I highly recommend reading @Limi’s blog post and come back to revisit this post.
I do not know about you, but I hate the Firefox Downloads window like the redheaded stepchild it is. The web-page-in-a-tab solution from Chrome (yeah, yeah, yeah – I know Opera did the tab thing first, but who uses that browser besides you?) doesn’t quite jive with me either.
A high-speed internet connection might be the first and foremost thing required for a better download experience. Somedays, it feels like I have to replace my current internet connection with a new one for higher speeds. And for that, I might have to find companies who can provide high-speed internet in my area. The second step could be the browser choice, while the third could be modifying its current setting for faster downloads. Further, I decided to do this quick & dirty mockup of how the download experience in the browser could be improved.
Introducing the Browser Downloads Docking Menu
Browser Downloads Docking Menu (quick & dirty mockup)
I would think a slide in/out dock menu for downloads would be a better solution. This way you’ll always know where your downloads are and it enables context (page and download file viewable simultaneously, guaranteed) and visual/ spatial cues (e.g. in an OSX version you should animate the download file flying into the downloads dock menu).
Visual / Spatial Cues
Visual / Spatial Cues (quick & dirty mockup)
I think it’s important to visually show that the user’s intent to download has been registered, where the download can be expected to be found and what you can do next. If the dock menu is not out/showing already, it should slide out first, showing the user how and where.
Filtering & Recovery
Filtering & Recovery (quick & dirty mockup)
Some sort of parameters to adjust list view of downloads should be added, but not visible to the normal user as default. Should be extremely easy to understand and use for normal people. Should change and filter view live/realtime. The big fat “Show all” button is there to secure that the user can feel confident that she’s seeing everything and that all filters are off/reset.
What do you think? Are you happy about the current download experience in your browser? How would you make it better?
Have you tried out TweetMag yet? It’s an exiting new iPad app that will let you comfortably read an aggregate of your @twitter feeds. The app is not totally unlike Flipboard, but it’s currently and it let’s you consume the content in a more flexible and enjoyable way in my personal opinion. However, the way TweetMag (as of writing) facilitates twitter list management sucks. I’ll suggest a quick and dirty fix to that below, but first, take a look at the sweet TweetMag app in their promo video:
The problem with lists in TweetMag
Right now, the process of adding and managing twitter lists in TweetMag can be a very painful chore especially if you are following many lists from one single user. You have to add each list separately, one at a time, by dragging the icon of a list from the menu bottom right to the top menue bar or rack (up to “TOP STORIES” and “CATEGORIES”). As that was not bad enough, you need to drill your way down the interface to find the same user again and open her lists again for adding the next list. And again. And again. And again. Ouch! And as if that wasn’t enough, you can’t even see which lists you have already added! That’s just silly and poor design if you ask me. Click on the image below to see a screenshot of the current TweetMag app on the iPad in its original size:
My improvement suggestions
It doesn’t have to be this painful. I’ve made a very quick and dirty improvement suggestion illustrated below, adding a simple visual cue and an extra button.
The user should visually be reminded of the lists she’s already added by labeling and/or fading out (ghosting) the already added twitter list’s icon (illustrated). It is not possible to spot which lists the user has already added in the current version of TweetMag, potentially leading to a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth operations to verify if a list has already been added or not.
Currently, to add another list from the same twitter user, the user is forced by the software app to step out of context, remembering (internalising) the previous steps and repeat a multiple step process to get back into the context of continuing to add twitter lists from the same user.
That’s just not nice to the user in my book. I think the software should play by your processes and let you stay in your context. By adding an add/remove list button directly in the list overview, the user would be able to add, remove, manage all list operations in one process without having to leave context or having to remember previous steps and keeping the original goal in mind while working herself back into context repetitively per list management operation.
Adding colour to the add/remove buttons like green and red could further enhance affordance.
Should you be worried that any spatial navigational cue of having the user dragging the icon to the TweetMag rack might be lost for each add/remove operation using simple button operations instead of drag & drop, I suggest looking at how Apple OSX is doing this; You could animate the icons flying up on the rack, flying down out of the rack respectively to retain the visual cues. Take a look at the image below for a quick and dirty mockup of my suggested changes:
I also added the suggestion on Get Satisfaction should you be interested in my suggestion to improving list management in the TweetMag app.
What do you think of TweetMag? Do you love it? Hate it? Perhaps you prefer Flipboard? Do you create and manage twitter lists with TweetMag?
You see, as I was doing my due diligence for my crazy new venture, I jotted down some notes on the history of digital social networks leading up to the Facebook era and I thought why not share them with you here.
Most of the following is based on to the level of theft in no small part, verbatim quotations from the book “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatric (@davidkirkpatric) and some tidbits from Wikipedia, Google and my own faulty memory.
And, yes – it is heavily biased towards the US and Europe since I did not have much good source material on say, e.g. Chinese, Korean and Japanese social networks. Feel free to fill me in.
I claim Fair Use, as in the “Please don’t sue. That wouldn’t be fair.” kind. The following content is meant for educational purposes only . If you want to use or republish, please make sure to credit and attribute David Kirkpatric and Wikipedia. Commercial (re)use would probably be bad for your karma.
Here we go – A Brief History of Social Networks:
J. C. R. Licklider Source: Wikimedia Commons License: Public Domain
While initially conceived as an information and resource sharing network linking a variety of counter-cultural economic, educational, and social organizations with each other and the public, Community Memory was soon generalized to be an information flea market . Once the system became available, the users demonstrated that it was a general communications medium that could be used for art, literature, journalism, commerce, and social chatter.
Monochrome BBS – A more recent modern BBS
The first BBS is launched. (BTW, if you were a part of the BBS scene or want to learn more about it, check out this acclaimed and extensive documentary.)
The first public dial-up Bulletin Board System (BBS) was developed by Ward Christensen (@WardXmodem). According to an early interview, while he was snowed in during the Great Blizzard of 1978 in Chicago, Christensen along with fellow hobbyist Randy Suess, began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS. CBBS went online on February 16, 1978
Diagram of usenet, Author: Benjamin D. Esham License: Public Domain
Usenet enables members to post to groups dedicated to specific topics. (Check out the highly interesting book “Netizens” for much more on the history and impact of Usenet and the Internet.)
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.
Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages (called articles or posts, and collectively termed news) to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects, and is the precursor to the various Internet forums that are widely used today. Usenet can be superficially regarded as a hybrid between email and web forums. Discussions are threaded, with modern news reader software, as with web forums and BBSes, though posts are stored on the server sequentially.
Minitel built in 1982 Author: Tieum License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
The French postal service is the first to bring the concepts of commenting in online groups and chartrooms to a mass consumer audience with the launch of the national online service, Minitel
A side note, from Wikipedia:
The German “Bildschirmtext” (BTX) is almost as old as Minitel and technically very similar, but it was largely unsuccessful because consumers had to buy expensive decoders to use it. The German postal service held a monopoly on the decoders that prevented competition and lower prices. Few people bought the boxes, so there was little incentive for companies to post content, which in turn did nothing to further box sales. When the monopoly was loosened, it was too late because PC-based online services had started to appear.
AOL logo 1991 to 2006 Source: brandsoftheworld.com License: Fair Use
America Online starts (albeit under another name; Quantum Computer Services, Inc.)
Check out David Carlson’s Online Timeline for more information about the world coming online 1990 – 1994.
match.com screenshot anno 2008
match.com started by Gary Kremen as a proof of concept for Electric Classifieds which aimed to provide classified advertising systems for newspapers launches, filled with personal information for a highly specific purpose.
Classmates.com created by by Randy Conrads launches to help people identified by their real names to find and communicate with former school friends.
PlanetAll a social networking, calendaring, and address book site launches in November 1996. It was founded by a group of Harvard Business School and MIT graduates including Warren Adams. (A big thanks to James Currier for pointing out that I had missed PlanetAll!).
PlanetAll was possibly the first social networking site on the Internet. The site had more than 100,000 groups, organized around real-world counterparts such as academic institutions and employers. When the user entered the name of his or her university, the service would list the user’s classmates who were also members of the service. Users could exchange authorization to access the each others’ contacts. Many sites at the time offered web-based address books and calendars, but PlanetAll.com combined the two: when a user entered travel plans into the calendar, the service would cross-reference the destination with the address book, as well as the user’s contacts’ travel plans; the site would then notify users when they would cross paths with their contacts.
sixdegrees.com founded by Andrew Weinreich launches, takes social networks further. A breakthrough in use of real names. The first Rolodex in the cloud. Invitation only. At the time revolutionary. “Network me” feature for matching you with users that met your quality criteria. Failed due to operating costs, licensing costs, development and maintenance costs and users only having dialup Internet at the time (e.g. the service lacked photos due to bandwidth concerns). Bought out for 120 million. Shut down in late 2000. Weinreich was granted a broad reaching social network patent.
Ethnic focused networks Black Planet founded by Omar Wasow (@owasow) and Asian Avenue co-founded by Benjamin Sun, Peter Chen, Grace Chang, Michael Montero, and Calvin Wong launches with limited social networking functions.
The daily jolt (R.I.P. April 6, 2010) launches as a campus bulletin board for 12 Schools.
tickle.com launched originally as emode.com, with quizzes and tests for both entertainment and self-discovery, by James Currier and Rick Marini. Warren Adams of PlanetAll is an investor.
Swedish teen community Lunar Storm (R.I.P. August 8th 2010) launches
Ordinary people begins using email. Again, using addresses that typically would not correspond to their real names.
Address books of emails maintained on and within the services. Members did not identify real-life friends or establish regular communication pathways with them. Later in the decade, Instant Messaging (IM) services like ICQ, PowWow and Ubique to hold the same way. People used pseudonyms for themselves, not their real names.
On August 4, 1998, Amazon.com announces that it has agreed to acquire PlanetAll. Under terms of the agreement, Amazon.com acquired 100 percent of PlanetAll in exchange for 800,000 shares.
Amazon.com shuts down PlanetAll.com on July 2, 2000, telling PlanetAll members, “We are pleased to announce that we have completed the integration of the key e-commerce related features of PlanetAll.com into our main site at Amazon.com… Although PlanetAll.com will be going away, you’ll still be able to enjoy some of the tools that help you keep in touch with like-minded folks.”
2001 – 2002 : Social Networking bug hits Silicon Valley and SF
Cyworld (huge in Korea) adds social networking capabilities
“Network Effect” as explained by Wikipedia (excerpt):
In economics and business, a network effect (also called network externality) is the effect that one user of a good or service has on thevalue of that product to other people. When network effect is present, the value of a product or service increases as more people use it.
The classic example is the telephone. The more people own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externality because a user may purchase their phone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case.Online social networks work in the same way, with sites like Twitter and Facebook being more useful the more users join.
The expression “network effect” is applied most commonly to positive network externalities as in the case of the telephone. Negative network externalities can also occur, where more users make a product less valuable, but are more commonly referred to as “congestion” (as in traffic congestion or network congestion).
Network congestion tends to occur when a network node or link is carrying more data than it can handle, slowing down process times. Now, it may not sound serious but in fact, it is. So serious that it could cause something like Packet Loss, which means that any critical information that you are trying to send doesn’t reach its intended destination – this site has more information. With potential effects like this, learning how to prevent events like network congestion, and packet loss from happening will be very important to your network, as well as your online activities.
That being said, over time, positive network effects can create a bandwagon effect as the network becomes more valuable and more people join, in a positive feedback loop.
Friendster launches March 22nd by Jonathan Abrams (@ABRAMS), Peter Chin and Dave Lee. It gambles to lure users away from match.com. Uses real names and photos on profiles. You could search for friends near locations. Invitation only, befriend if you liked the photo. Cracked the code of the modern social network, defined basic structure. Problems; “Fakesters” – People with fake names, fake photos. Plagued by engineering misjudgments; did not scale, had major outages, performance issues. Mark Pincus (@markpinc)(later founder of Zynga) and Reid Hoffman (@quixotic) are investors.
Club Nexus launches by Stanford students Orkut Buyukkokten (@orkut) and Eytan Adar. Meant to connect Stanford students only. Complicated, too many features. (Bonus material: An analysis of Club Nexus by the founders.)
InCircle launches by Club Nexus founders. Alumni only.
Orkut Buyukkokten (@orkut) leaves for google. Programs a new social network prototype. Pitches it to google. orkut.com launches.
Tribe.net founded by Mark Pincus (@markpinc). A social network around specific interests. Burning Man, Alt Sex and connecting turned out to be what the users are more interested in instead of buying and selling things.
When Tagged launched in 2004 as a teen-only social network, security was a top priority. In October 2006 the site made a drastic change and went from being under-18 only, to allowing users of any age to join. This change has helped user registration skyrocket. In fact, Tagged was adding more users per day than MySpace in May of 2007.
YouTube sold to Google in November for $1.65 billion.
Dana Boyd & Nichole Ellison write in a paper:
“The salient features of a true social network”: “A service where a user can construct a public or semi-public profile, articulate a list of other users which whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. You establish your position in a complex network of relationships. And your profile positions you in the context of these relationships. Usely in order to discover otherwise hidden points of common interest or connection.”