New streaming video game platform set for 2019 release
On Tuesday, Google held a special conference at the Game Developers Conference, GDC for short, in which they revealed their newest project, dubbed the Stadia. While a whole lot wasn’t actually revealed, what was revealed was fairly substantial for the future of streaming and gaming, and could possibly signal the beginning of a new technological war for consumers time and money.
First things first, what exactly is the Stadia? Stadia is essentially a service in which users would be able to play games through Chrome or Youtube using an intricate cloud system. The whole idea is based in ushering in a new era of gaming, on what can cater to streaming and viewing culture. Streamers and Content Creators generate millions of dollars in revenue for both the gaming publishers whose games they play, ala Ninja and Fortnite, and the streaming services they use, ala Ninja (again) and Twitch.
In addition to the service, a controller was announced, and while it seems fairly rudimentary, two special buttons have been added. The capture button, enabling the user to upload clips directly to Youtube when pushed, and the Google Assistant button, which will allow the user to ask Google for help when stuck on a puzzle or level.
Focusing back on the actual service, it seems that when using Stadia a customer would be able to watch a Ninja type play a game, say the newest DOOM, and be able to jump right into that game themselves if they so desired. They could also be watching a trailer, as shown in the conference, and then immediately be able to play the game afterwards by using a link, jumping into the action in a matter of seconds.
In addition to this premise of game-streaming, you would be able to play and continue playing games between a number of different devices, ranging from phones to tablets to computers. As long as the device has access to Chrome, the consumer will have access to Stadia.
Or so it seems. Many questions have been left unanswered by Google, like how people living in rural communities are expected to buy into this service. An even bigger, and more pressing question, is how buying this service will work. Will it be like a Playstation Now, Xbox Game Pass situation where you pay monthly for the service? Or will you need to purchase the games ahead of time to play them on Stadia? Or even worse than those two options, will you pay for a set amount of time where you can use the service, like $10 for 10 hours of play?
Many more questions, like how they plan on addressing data limits and throttling of usage due to the death of Net Neutrality. As of now, Google has not answered anything outside of what they announced at the GDC.
Competition wise, Google has an uphill battle ahead of them. In terms of cloud based resources, only Microsoft and Amazon can challenge them, but Microsoft has the advantage of having not only a place in the industry already well established, but their own streaming service built up in the previously mentioned Xbox Game Pass.
In addition to this,a major part of console wars at the moment is the use of exclusivities and in house studios to bolster a consoles worth to consumers over the others. Sony’s PS4 has outsold the Xbox One effectively by double the units if a recent article by Polygon is to be believed, due in no small part to their nearly unending list of amazing exclusive games like God of War and Marvel’s Spiderman.
The biggest advantage Google has at the moment is Youtube. Youtube garners millions, if not billions, of views daily. Youtube is one of the most important parts of internet culture, and if Google were to remove the platform from competitors consoles, it may sway some to use the service. Google has in the past used this method, according to The Verge. Most notably with the Windows phone, which in addition to a number of other issues ended the devices life before it started.
While it is obvious that streaming will be the future of gaming, what isn’t obvious is who will lead the revolution. Google seems to have gotten ahead of the pack, but being first isn’t necessarily synonyms with success. In the next year or so, specifically at E3, expect to see other services like Stadia start to pop up everywhere. Once that happens we’ll get a better idea of how things might shape out. One thing is certain though. You better have a real good internet connection.
Header photo Courtesy of the Associated Press.