The lawsuit against Google alleges that the technology company significantly exaggerated the quality and accuracy of the games available at Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service. Stadia does not require a console, and players can play streaming video games on multiple devices (TV, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone).
The class action lawsuit, originally filed in the Queens County High Court in October 2020 and filed in New York Federal Court on February 12, 2021, alleges that Google has violated the Consumer Protection Act, which is designed to protect against fraudulent and misleading business practices and misleading advertising in all fifties. The complaint alleges that Google used false and misleading statements about how all of Stadia’s games would be playable with 4k accuracy, and did not fulfill its promise that Stadia would be more efficient than game consoles.
The complaint refers to several articles and media reports that appeared after Stadia’s release that refuted Google’s claims by explaining that the games advertised as 4K resolution were not actually in the correct or original 4K format. Instead, the games were assumed to run at 1080p or 1440p, and were scaled to 4K in Stadia and Google Chromecast Ultra (needed to play Stadia games in 4K). While it may be the developer’s responsibility to provide quality game content, such as 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, Google did nothing to correct the misinformation that all Stadia games were 4K.
The complaint alleges that some articles were later modified, suggesting that the edits may have been in line with Google to soften the attacks on the negative press. In addition, the complaint alleges that some of Google’s own statements on Twitter and the Stadia website were subsequently revised or removed after the information was obscured by news that the quality and accuracy of Stadia games were inconsistent with the original allegation.
If the lawsuit progresses, the class will seek damages on the amounts of Stadia subscription packages, as well as injunctions to put an end to the alleged unfair and fraudulent practices. In other words, in addition to the rebate to anyone who has purchased a Founder’s Edition, a Premiere Edition, or paid for a Stadia Pro subscription, plaintiffs require Google to list the accuracy of the games offered in the Stadia Store. This lawsuit, in addition to the recent announcement that Google closed its internal game development studio, is yet another collision with Google’s Stadia project.
Developers, publishers, and platform providers should be aware of things that are too promising, as is the case with all advertisers. Consumers recognize the difference between a company’s promises and actual deliveries, and many in the gaming community want to capture those differences. This should serve as a reminder that potentially serious legal exposure arises when pre-release marketing promotes features that are not reflected in the final products sold to consumers.
Google has done nothing to correct false information about the performance and accuracy of the games available on Stadium and does not disclose to consumers in the Google Stadia Store the accuracy of each game available for purchase.