Google recently revealed its alleged game-changing, gaming service which it named Stadia. From what can be gathered, Google has been doing a considerable amount of research on the gaming industry and is willing to dip its toe into the water, willing to compete for Xbox and Playstation users. While many of the details of the service remained under wraps, what we do know about the planned release in 2019 is that it is expected to be a major disruption to the gaming industry – in a good way.
Serious gamers spend serious money on equipment and bandwidth to play against online opponents, hoping their investment will result in an edge against their opponents. Investment is the proper word here, since video game tournaments are becoming more of a thing and have the potential to bring in serious money. $50,000 may not be a lot to a working person (because it will be taxed) but to a 14 year old it is enough to at least buy a new gaming system. Google recognizes this trend and perhaps is attempting to create a more level playing field for talented gamers who do not have the money to get the higher quality hardware.
This is the first disruption to the gaming industry – accessibility. Game play speed is critical to most gamers, but Stadia is prepped to give about 93% of the American population the ability to use Stadia and play against anyone on the same speed playing field. The reason for this is Stadia’s light 25 mbps bandwidth requirement, something people can get at many public hotspot connections. This might result in an increase in sales at certain McDonald’s when people gather to play in groups using the local connection and need some time to eat.
Another disruption headed in the direction of Xbox and Playstation is server end playing speed. The incredible 10.7 teraflops real time game play on the Stadia server GPU is at least double of what either of its future competitor’s provide. When it comes to making significant strides in the end user’s gaming experience, Google apparently has thought this out and made it a priority for Stadia. Users can have all the best equipment on their end, but if the server end fails then it’s all for naught.
These last two items are critical for the future development of online games and gaming. With more people being able to play online combined with the vastly improved user experience there will be a demand for games that can maximize the potential of Stadia. The result will be not only new games, but updated versions of the most popular older games that have stood the test of time. Consider that while virtual reality games are in their infancy, Stadia could pave the way for VR game experiences online that will rival real life.
There were many experts who believed Google Stadia would be a more updated version of the Xbox or Playstation, making significant improvements to existing hardware. Instead, Google sidestepped many of the issues that disappointed current online gaming users, the two biggest being compatibility and latency. Stadia is a cloud based game streaming service that is hoped to be a success and will reverse Google’s history of failed experiments such as Google Plus and Google Glass. The company is keeping much of the details of Stadia hidden from public view to avoid amping up expectations and laying the foundation for failure due to user disappointment.
But with its vast computing resources and significant financial clout, Google may actually be creating an entire new venue for online game playing. The cloud-based model has been played around with for upwards of a decade, with not a whole lot to show for it. Rather than trying to compete in well-established industries (see social media and Google Plus) it is coming out with a faster and somewhat unique version of online game play that will take some time for Microsoft and others to catch up with. The key may be how game developers warm up to the idea of partnering with Google.
The other x-factor is whether Stadia can live up to the modest hype already surrounding the concept. If the gaming experience does not meet expectations despite the announced statistics, Stadia will find itself more like Google Plus later down the road. No price has been announced for a per month subscription, but pundits are suggesting somewhere in the $11 to $15 a month range. Not only does Stadia have to meet the modest expectations, but it also needs to be affordable. If Google can pull this off it might be the new era of gaming many people of all ages have been waiting for.