An unbiased opinion on the Stadia Event after day 2
I wanted to take a moment to talk about the Stadia “Good Stuff” event. I am trying to be as unbiased as I can and pull from some of my experience as a public speaker and instructor to explain how Google set an environment that lead to hype and a lot of emotions.
It’s no big surprise that a lot of people are disappointed with how this event is turning out, and yes I am going to keep referring to it as “an event”. As I browse r/stadia I see a lot of backlash against the people who are disappointed; most of it saying that we over hyped this event and we shouldn’t be disappointed. One of the more common things I see is that Google only promised “Good Stuff” not mind blowing stuff and, while that’s true, as any public speaker, marketer, or communications major will tell you; communication is about more than just the words you use.
The words you use are important, no doubt, but the context around them is often more important than the actual words themselves. This is where I feel like Google Stadia really dropped the ball; they made the context around this even so much more than what it actually is. That context is what I want to talk about, particularly I want to explain how Google set up an environment with this event and what they were signalling. Let’s dive in.
“Good Stuff” vs. a Connect.
I’ve seen this argument appearing in the comments section a lot and I want to explain why this matters.
We’ve had Stadia connects in the past, two of them actually. They were each about 15-20 minutes long and covered basically the same thing that this event is covering; however Google never referred to them as “Good Stuff”. If Google had said ‘We’re having a Stadia Connect on 20 October.’ we all would have known what that meant; because we’ve already had two. The baseline has been established. Instead Google referred to this event as “Good Stuff” which immediately separates it from a Stadia Connect. In your mind you subconsciously start to think that Google hasn’t called a Stadia Connect “Good Stuff” before so this must be different than a connect.
The next thing that subconsciously separates this event from a Stadia Connect is the time frame. Stadia Connects were a single video, on a single day, yet this event is 3 days long. This further separates the two things. From what we know so far this event it right on track to be the same length overall of a standard connect, but we had no way of knowing that going in. There's some comments saying that 5 minute videos are easier to digest than 15 minute ones, and perhaps that's true; however it's not the length of the individual videos that's important. The length of the event is what mattered. 3 days of videos with no expectation management on length lead to people thinking we were going to get 3 Connect length videos.
And all of this is really important in setting a stage. By using different language and a different timeline Google was telling us that this even is different, this event is something we haven't seen before. This event is special.
The "Special" nature of this event got even further compounded by some truly bizarre timing for announcements. A few days ago the major bomb was released; Cyberpunk 2077 is coming to Stadia on the same day as everything else. This was huge news as it helps to cement Stadia as a real AAA gaming platform and not an afterthought that gets games once the publishers are done with the mainstream market. However, news like this also has a major drawback on the event.
By releasing this news just days before the event Google was unconsciously telling players 'this is cool, but it's not cool enough to be included.' Leaks happen all the time before conferences, I can hardly remember an E3 where one of the headliners wasn't leaked before hand, but those are leaks. With leaks no one really cares if the game is shown again at the event; with an intentional release though things are different. It doesn't make much sense to announce something days before an event if you're then going to just turn around and reannounce the same thing during the event.
These two things combined signaled that this event was really going to be something big because Google was signalling that it was special and also simultaneously signalling that it was bigger than Cyberpunk.
Now I'm fully aware that some of you are going to say I was reading too much into what was said, but as anyone who's studied effective communication will tell you the environment matters. Google did a really good job setting up an environment where expectations were high, and hype was higher.
Even if you still don't believe me on the environment that's ok, because now we're going to discuss the event itself. I'm fully aware that there's still one more video that hasn't been released yet and that's actually what I want to discuss.
The Yes Yes method
In public speaking and teaching there's a common methodology for setting a room. It's called the Yes Yes method. The general principal behind this method is that it's easier to capitalize on neutral or good emotions than it is to recover from negative emotions. With the Yes Yes method you want to get your audience saying "Yes" twice at the beginning to put them in a mood where they're more receptive to you.
When you do any sort of event there's always a debate about whether you start off big or end big. The Yes Yes method would suggest that you should start off with a big announcement to get everyone onboard. Starting off with Star Wars Fallen Order would have been a great start except…..it was already announced almost 6 months ago. So the big Yes Yes for this event was a date. That's how they started off the event, a reminder that this game exists and a date….that's over a month away and right after Cyberpunk. Think about how this would have gone if Fallen Order was announced with zero prior notice, just bam suddenly EA games, and Star Wars to boot.
After that they followed up with everyone's favorite; an indie. Stadia has been heavily criticized for it's Indie to AAA ratio. Indies by themselves aren't bad, but what people have been begging for is more AAA. Instead Google leads off with an Indie as it's first real reveal.
Now Google could absolutely crush it tomorrow and give up some mind blowing announcements, but it'll have been 48 hours of festering. Add to that the fights happening in comments which only leads to even more vitriol. Regardless of how well tomorrow goes people will always have a sour taste in their mouth because the first two days were less memorable.
If this is the new norm for Stadia announcements that's totally fine, but Google needs to be aware of the environment they're setting with these events.
I hope this was informative and helped to capture what I believe is how a large portion of this community is feeling. If this had just been called another Connect then I don't think anyone would have batted an eye, but because Google set an environment they created a certain level of expectation and hype.