How many hours has Stadia streamed? And, how does it compare with other cloud gaming services? Let’s see what the data actually shows!
Back in February, GeForce Now announced that they had streamed 175 million hours on the service up to its first anniversary. This was met with fanfare from the media. For example, 9to5Google published an article on the topic.
That article particularly called out the success of GFN streaming cyberpunk - “One big highlight is Cyberpunk 2077 … Nvidia says that 3 million hours were played on that game…”There appears to be some confusion as to what period that covers, but NVIDIA’s own site now shows 4 Million hours from the December release until the service’s February anniversary.
This led me to wonder what these numbers look like for Stadia...
Google itself hasn’t advertised much in the way of numbers itself. There are, of course, many reasons why they wouldn’t - including maintaining a competitive advantage of information in a very new and very competitive space. On the other hand, many media outlets and community trolls seem positively eager to jump to the most negative conclusion they can - despite having never looked at actual data.
So, how about we try to do something responsible - analyse the data we do have and see what conclusions we draw and what uncertainty there is. I will attempt to derive the number of hours Stadia has streamed by starting with a known leaderboard size (see https://stadiastats.jdeslip.com/?table=leaderboards) and related data.
Step 1: Use data from the actual leaderboard to estimate the time Sniper Elite 4 has been streamed on Stadia.
Bear with me here; there is a reason why we start with the Sniper Elite 4 leaderboard. It is the simplest game leaderboard to interpret for a number of reasons:
- Sniper Elite 4 has a leaderboard size of over 226,000 Stadians.
- There is a single combined leaderdboard for all multiplayer and single player modes.
- You can get on the leaderboard in as few as 5-10 minutes of gameplay.
- By looking at the leaderboard, we can create a plot of leaderboard size vs. hours played. See the attached figure or See the video at the Stadia Dosage channel.
- We then simply need to estimate the area under the curve (i.e. the integral of the data) to get the total hours played.
To estimate this integral, I treat various points on the leaderboard with gameplay time available (these are rare due to privacy settings) as representing a median (known to be lower than the mean for a curve like this) of a representative block containing that point and add up the area of the various boxes they define. You can see pretty clearly visually (see the figure or the video at the Stadia Dosage channel) that this is an underestimate of the integral. But, we are able to find enough points to come up with a decent estimate. Given that we aren’t doing any extrapolations here (just adding up the data from the leaderboard), the confidence level is pretty high. So, Final Answer? 1 Million hours +/- 0.2-0.3M
Step 2: Use extrapolations from StadiaStats.gg to (independently from Step 1) estimate the amount of time Sniper Elite 4 has been streamed on Stadia.
While the above method allows us to estimate the amount of time a game has been streamed to a fairly high precision, unfortunately nearly no other game has such a complete publicly accessible leaderboard. So, unfortunately, this method can’t be used for a general Stadia game. Instead, let’s turn to the dataset at StadiaStats.GG (great site, check it out) which contains data from over 70K+ Stadia users (still a small subset), 25K+ of which have their game ownership/achievements and ~9K of which have their playtime listed.
If we specifically look at the data for Sniper Elite 4, we see that a sampling of 3,416 Sniper Elite players (from conversations with the site owners) have played the game for 16,310 hours. If we assume that these 3,416 are roughly representative of the overall 226,000 players on the leaderboard, we end up with a play-time estimate of (226,000 / 3,416) x 16,310 = 1.08M hours.
Step 3: Compare the two estimates of time streamed for Sniper Elite 4.
It is actually remarkable how well these two estimates for the SE4 time streamed agree with each other. One estimate, based on a direct integration of the leaderboard, is 1M+/-0.2M and an extrapolation from 3,416 people on StadiaStats.GG gives 1.07M! What this means is that (at least for SE4) the StadiaStats.gg subset of users appears to be fairly representative of the overall game population on average. This suggests that we can try to use StadiaStats.GG data from other games as well to estimate the total play time of other games as well.
Step 4: Estimate the total number of hours streamed on Stadia based on the extrapolation method from StadiaStats.gg.
We do this by assuming that the ratio of total actual players vs. players with times counted on StadiaStats.GG ( 226,000/3,416 = 66 for SE4) is roughly the same across all games. This gives a total estimated Stadia Streamed gameplay time of 2.06M * 66.2 ~140 million hours (based on all gameplay for the 9K StadiaStats.GG's players with public playtime). And, 8 Million hours, in particular, for Cyberpunk 2077 (again based on StadiaStats.GG public playtime for the game).
Step 5: Estimate the uncertainty.
We made a big assumption!! We assumed the extrapolation factor (66x) is independent of the game! Let’s analyze this...
While Sniper Elite 4 has the easiest leaderboard to interpret. We can estimate this factor from other games with relatively clear leaderboards as well:
- Zombie Army 4 (113K on leaderboard, 2059 on StadiaStats.GG). EF ~ 55.3
- Monopoly (21K on leaderboard, 772 on StadiaStats.GG). EF ~ 27.2
These suggest that a factor of 66x might be as much as 2x too big for some games. Or, it could be that this simply reflects how much time you have to spend in game to get on the leaderboard.
On the other hand, we know that the Stadia Android app has been downloaded by 2-5 million accounts. But! The total number of Stadia users an EF of 66x suggests is only, 9,000 * 66.2 = 600K. This is surely an underestimate given the app download counts. This suggests that for some games (E.G. free to play games, one off popular games like Cyberpunk 2077 and pro-games during big promotions when people were trying the service), an EF of 66x might be as much as 3x-4x too small!
In conclusion, we can say with a reasonably high level of confidence and precision that Sniper Elite 4 has been streamed on Stadia about 1 Million hours. We can say (with significantly larger error bars) that Stadia has likely been streamed around 140 million hours (+/- 2x) - with a Cyberpunk estimate at 8 million hours (+/- 2x). What we can say with absolute confidence is that Stadia has streamed at least the same order of hours as other nascent cloud gaming services like GFN.
What’s interesting about this is that some of the same news outlets who praised GFN for their Cyberpunk hours streamed, recently took the opportunity to claim (without any analysis) that Stadia Cyberpunk numbers were disappointing. Concluding based on a “chuckle” in an earnings call that “Stadia’s share of sales were minimal at best.” It’s almost as if some of these outlets are paid to promote GFN but not Stadia… oh wait.
Seriously, though, what’s disappointing to me is that tech and game bloggers rarely seem willing to gather and analyse available data in order to generate responsible journalism.
The data suggests Stadia is performing as well or better than other players in this early cloud gaming space. Don’t be fooled by people talking up another narrative based on their “hunch” or by reading tea-leaves and chuckles.
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