What Caused Stadia Growth to Explode in Late 2020?

One of the fastest ever periods of growth for the Stadia platform and community was during November and December 2020. While there have been plenty of periods of very healthy growth since then (including November and December 2021), nothing has quite matched the explosiveness of late 2020. This has made many people ask: what caused Stadia growth to pop in December 2020?

In this post, we will consider the various factors at play and quantitatively analyze their impact on growth. Let’s start by discussing the collected data…

Stadia Growth in Late 2020 was Huge

We at StadiaDosage track many growth metrics for the Stadia platform and community. All of them saw accelerated growth in late 2020. Take for example the r/Stadia subreddit growth:

(left) r/Stadia subreddit membership vs time. (right) r/Stadia daily growth vs time.

You can see there was significant boost in the subreddit growth rate over November and December 2020. However, as we mentioned above, reddit wasn’t the only place we clocked significant increases in growth rates during this period! Here is just a couple more examples from the official Stadia discord channel and Google Play app reviews:

(left) daily growth rate for the official Stadia discord (right) daily rate of increase for the official Stadia app on the Google Play store

And, for the most part, the peaks of these curves are in the same locations.

What news/events were happening around Stadia at this time?

What events were happening around the time that could potentially explain this massive increase in Stadia growth? Here is everything we could find that could possibly be relevant:

  • 11/10/2020 Family Share Announced
  • 11/10/2020 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 
  • 11/19/2020 Cyberpunk Deal on Stadia
  • 11/19/2020 Destiny 2 Goes Free to Play 
  • 11/19/2020 iOS Support Announced
  • 12/08/2020 8 New Countries. 
  • 12/10/2020 Cyberpunk released
  • 12/11/2020 Positive articles about Cyberpunk on Stadia begin
  • 12/16/2020 iOS support added

Of these, only a few match the dates relevant features in the data and are unique enough to plausibly impact Stadia growth significantly:

  • 11/10/2020 Family Share Announced
  • 11/19/2020 Cyberpunk Deal on Stadia
  • 11/19/2020 Destiny 2 Goes Free to Play 
  • 12/08/2020 8 New Countries. 
  • 12/11/2020 Positive articles about Cyberpunk on Stadia begin

That leaves 4 unique dates that important events took place: 11/10/2020, 11/19/2020, 12/08/2020, 12/11/2020

Let’s model the Stadia uptake using these events

What we are going to do is attempt to model the growth-per-day curves above (in particular the subreddit growth rate where we have the highest fidelity data) with a model for uptake of a service after an impactful event.

Here is how we model this system:

  1. Assume discrete “events” that happen at a precise time.
  2. Model community growth or uptake like a reaction time using a flexible probability distribution – the Exponentially Modified Gaussian Distribution:
  3. Whatever complicated sociology drives community growth, we assume the parameters λ, μ, σ are constant across events, only the magnitude of each peak changes. This important point lends credibility to the model – all peaks share the same underlying shape (including the tails) that describes the underlying sociological process.

So, how well can we fit the data? Turns out, pretty darn good! See the below plot of r/Stadia growth vs. day in late 2020.

If we break down the fit into the 4 component events, you can see each individual event’s contribution:

We can then read off the magnitude of each contributing event:

  • 11/10 Event (Family Share): 235 (25%)
  • 11/19 Event (CP2077 Deal + Destiny 2 FTP): 150 (16%)
  • 12/8 Event(Country Expansion): 410 (43%)
  • 12/11 Event (CP2077 Positive Press) : 150 (16%)

Therefore, the events that lead to the most overall Stadia growth were the country expansion which accounts for close to half of the overall growth and, secondly, the release of family sharing.

Is this a surprising result? Well maybe… But, perhaps it shouldn’t be. On 12/8/2020, Stadia added 8 new Countries to its availability territory – those 8 countries have a population of 111 million. The total population Stadia was available to went from 750 million people to 861 million. That is a 15% increase!

Compare that population increase to the growth of the subreddit (from 12/8 to mid-January) which was 17%. Or compare to the growth in reviews for the Stadia Android app in the same period: 22%. It’s a fairly close match!

It is important to note that the model above really can resolve the difference between the 12/8 event and 12/11 event. If we change the magnitude of the two events in the model, the fit is significantly worse. The rise in the main peak occurs clearly before 12/11 in the data. That said, this analysis should still be taken with a grain of salt, the resolution of the data is daily and is based on community growth numbers that are surely related to player count, but is not the the same as having access to the player count data directly.

So, there you have it! Our analysis points to the Stadia country expansion being the largest contributing factor to the Stadia growth explosion in late 2020, with the release of family sharing and the Cyberpunk 2077 deal + positive press being very important additional contributors.

We hope you had as much fun reading this as we had doing the analysis!


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Jack Deslippe

Jack Deslippe is an HPC professional with a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. As a hobby, he is passionate about consumer technology and Cloud Gaming in particular. He volunteers as an editor for Cloud Dosage in his spare time. See the games Jack is Playing at ExoPhase. Like his content? You can follow Jack on Threads: @jackdeslippe and Buy Jack a Beer.

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