In new statistics shared by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), we’ve learned that Google Stadia had significantly fewer active users than most other cloud gaming services.

Following Microsoft’s announcement of its intention to acquire Activision Blizzard, regulatory bodies around the world have taken action to investigate how such a merger would affect competition in the video game industry. Because Microsoft is responsible for Xbox Game Pass Streaming, the merger’s effect on cloud gaming has been a key point of contention.

The CMA has released its provisional findings (h/t Duncan), explaining in great detail the ways that a merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard would have a negative impact on competition. In one section of the findings, the CMA offers statistics on how many active users each of the major cloud gaming platforms had in 2021 and 2022.

While the CMA does not provide the raw numbers for each service in the public version of its report, the regulator does show a percentage range (0-5%, 5-10%, etc) of market share that each had, based on the number of monthly average users (MAUs). In an appendix, it’s explained that these charts were created based on information provided directly by each company and reflect global usage, not just players in the UK.

Cloud gaming market share, 2021

Service %
xCloud 20-30
PlayStation – Cloud 30-40
Google Stadia 5-10

Cloud gaming market share, 2022

Service %
xCloud 60-70
PlayStation Cloud Gaming 10-20
Google Stadia 0-5
Amazon Luna 0-5

Publicly, Google has remained silent about how many users Stadia had, but these new statistics show that Google’s streaming option failed to make a sizeable dent in the market. While 2021 saw Stadia maintain somewhere between 5-10% of the cloud gaming market, Google’s market share dropped to between 0-5% in 2022.

Importantly, the 2022 statistics for Google Stadia only represent from January to July, which means the drop in market share was not caused by the announcement of Stadia’s shutdown.

The only other points of reference that we’ve had for Google Stadia’s true player count have come from the Play Store. The Android app for Stadia was downloaded between 1,000,000 and 5,000,000 times, while the Android TV app was only downloaded between 100,000 and 500,000 times.

Throughout its findings, the CMA points to Google Stadia as an example of how even a company with a strong foundation of cloud infrastructure and compelling features failed, due to a lack of content. By that token, allowing Microsoft to acquire the numerous properties of Activision Blizzard could make it more difficult for a cloud gaming service to offer a competitive game library.

We consider that Google’s recent decision to shut down its own cloud gaming service, Stadia, shows that merely having some strengths relevant to cloud gaming is not enough to guarantee a platform’s success.

We provisionally believe that content is particularly important to the success of a cloud gaming service, 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.

Looking at the broader cloud gaming market, in 2021, Sony’s cloud streaming service — at the time called PlayStation Now — was the market leader, garnering between 30-40% of monthly players. Within a year’s time, Microsoft dominated the cloud gaming market, with 60-70% of monthly players. It’s possible this was affected by the introduction of Fortnite to Xbox Game Pass Streaming, which is currently one of the only ways to play the popular battle royale game from mobile devices.

In a similar shift to PlayStation, Nvidia GeForce Now dropped from a strong 20-30% share down to 10-20%. Meanwhile, Amazon Luna had roughly the same amount of active users in 2022 as Google Stadia.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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