After months of hype, Google’s big video game streaming service, Stadia, is here and, well, it hasn’t been the smoothest of launches due to various technical issues. In what appears to be an attempt to draw attention away from the platform’s painful teething period, Google has decided to focus the marketing push on the Stadia’s controllers, i.e the only aspect that works properly.
But rather than highlighting things like the controller’s buttons and joysticks and whatnot, Google has decided to promote its “gender neutral” aspects.
In a chat with CNN Business, Google VP and head of Stadia, Phil Harrison, said that since their competitors have traditionally been “more masculine,” they wanted Stadia to go in the other direction and take advantage of Google’s lack of “pre-existing ‘gamer culture’.”
To that effect, Harrison said Google tested hundreds of colours and surveyed thousands of gamers to nail the Stadia controller’s look. After much testing, they settled on “Wasabi” as the final colour as it had “univeral appeal” among both men and women.
“Both men and women gravitated towards this color. It ended up being super gender neutral but still very expressive. It’s really hard to find colors like that.”
Not sure if anyone ever has looked at wasabi and thought “yes, that’ll solve the gender neutral issue we’ve been having” but hey, you do you Google.
If this all sounds like a big load of unnecessary nonsense for an issue that previously didn’t exist, well you’d be right actually.
Video game controllers have never been explicitly marketed or made with dudes in mind, which makes Google’s “gender neutral” push for the Stadia very odd. To be fair, Harrison did also say that the controller was “made for small and large hands” in an attempt to cater to a “large segment of gamers that aren’t always appreciated” so there’s actually some good stuff going on with the Stadia controller.
You can’t blame Google for trying to think outside the box but this whole “gender neutral” angle comes off as a bit patronising given how video game controllers and controller skins have been sold in a wide range of colours since the 90s.
Perhaps rather than trying to remedy a “gender neutral” video game controller problem that never existed in the first place, Google should focus on more pressing issues like fixing all the little niggle’s that’s plaguing Stadia or maybe ease up on the gender stuff and put more time into the accessibility side of things (like what Xbox has done).