The Google Stadia version of Thumper, which is offered free to all paying Stadia Pro subscribers, has seen only a few thousand players, based on leaderboard data reviewed by Ars Technica. The numbers point to significant problems as Google’s new streaming game service, launched in November, seeks to pull players away from traditional gaming platforms.
Thumpertogether with Rise of the Tomb Raider, was a free Stadia Pro title for January, meaning anyone who paid $129 for the service’s “Founder’s Edition” and “Premiere Edition” bundles (these bundles, which are currently the only way to access Stadia include three months of Stadia Pro service). However, as of this morning, only 5,515 people have registered a score on the leaderboards for the first phase of the Stadia version of the game, which separates such leaderboards by platform. That number stood at 4,563 on January 15, when Ars conducted a sample.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Stadia Pro only has 5,515 users. For starters, not everyone who has played the game has completed the first stage (it takes about 10 minutes depending on personal performance). Trophy data for the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, however, suggests that nearly 70 percent of all Thumper players manage to pass this low bar, which would translate to about 8,000 players for the Stadia version so far.
There’s also probably a significant number of Stadia Pro subscribers who just haven’t bothered to buy their free copy of Thumper on Stadia or you’ve redeemed it but haven’t played it yet. Data from PlayStation player tracker Gamstat suggests only about 65,000 new players have tried the PS4 version of Thumper in October 2018 when it was offered as a free PlayStation Plus download in Asia/Pacific countries. That’s despite there being approximately 34 million PlayStation Plus subscribers worldwide at the time, a number that likely included millions of subscribers in the Asia/Pacific region.
The Stadia Pro player file can also contain many users who have already enjoyed Thumper on other platforms. Stadia subscribers who have already played the game on Windows, PS4 (and PSVR), Oculus headsets, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One or iOS in recent years are probably not in the market for a streaming copy, even if it’s free. However, if it does, the real value of an old title will be like Thumper as Stadia Pro freebie.
There may also be some Stadia Pro subscribers who haven’t used the service at all in January and thus haven’t been able to play the game. But a large group of such ‘inactive’ Stadia subscribers so soon after launch wouldn’t be a good sign for the long-term health of the service (if you belong to that group, you still have the chance to log in and a great game!)
The Thumper Also on the leaderboards are an unknown number of Stadia Pro users who bought the game for $19.99 in November and December before it was offered for free. In November, Google offered refunds to early adopters who bought Stadia copies of Farming Simulator and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition before the titles became Stadia Pro freebies in December.
Not a strong start
The Thumper leaderboards suggest that Stadia is by far the least popular platform for the game right now. The first level has been cleared by about 172,000 players on PS4, about 120,000 players on Steam, and about 51,000 players on iOS, according to the leaderboard data (we couldn’t check the Xbox One and Switch versions at the time of printing) . Even the Oculus Store version of the game records over 12,000 first-level scores, despite extremely limited overall sales for Oculus VR hardware (players playing offline or “private” on non-Stadia platforms may complicate this comparison) .
This kind of comparison is, of course, a bit unfair to the Stadia version, given that those other platforms have had several years to amass their player base. Gamstat data suggests the PS4 version of Thumper only had about 13,600 players per month after its late 2016 release on the platform, which is more in line with the Stadia data.
But again, it’s important to remember that all those players on non-Stadia platforms actually had to pay up to $20 to buy the game before they could play it. Thumper only attracted a few thousand Stadia players despite that totally free for anyone currently using the service since early January.
Caveats aside, the low player counts for Thumper on Stadia are not a good sign for a service that has been heavily criticized in multiple launch day reviews and continues to get impatience from many early adopters hoping for a bigger game library. If a game that Google is literally giving away only attracts a few thousand players on Stadia, we have to wonder how many sales publishers get to see streaming titles at full cost that can go up to $60.
Perhaps titles that launch on the same day as other platforms on Stadia (or possible future Stadia exclusives) will have more time to attract new streaming players. Perhaps Google’s planned 2020 launch of a free Stadia tier that doesn’t require a monthly fee will increase the overall customer base for the service’s games. Could be ThumperThe jittery, trippy rhythm-action gameplay is less appealing on Stadia than on other platforms.
For now, however, the Thumper Leaderboards give us a direct, if incomplete, public look at the potential audience size for legacy titles on Stadia. And so far, that look may not be very encouraging to Google.