Article By Adam H
Last week Google announced their leap into the highly competitive console wars with their unique next generation platform, Stadia. With the announcement of Stadia, Google has declared war on Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and Amazon/Twitch with technology that doesn’t utilise the sale of a console or traditional hardware.
The best way to explain what Stadia is, is to think of it as a somewhat virtual console. Through the power of the Internet and with what seems to be any device that has an internet connection and the ability to launch the Google Chrome browser a user can connect to Stadia to stream AAA next-gen games to wherever they are.
Google utilises its vast farms of servers, which are housed in all four corners of the globe and claims to give the user a seamless, latency free gaming experience. With the ability to stream Stadia on multiple devices, that vary in size and power, the user can transfer their gaming session between devices in order to pick up where they left off from their previous play. Google demonstrated this in their presentation by playing Assassins Creed Odyssey on PC, Laptop, Phone, Tablet and TV, seamlessly moving to each device without the need to save whilst picking up the game exactly where the user left off from the device previous.
Stadia will be fully integrated with YouTube, allowing users to stream their games directly to the platform in order for YouTubers to reach their audiences instantly without the need for 3rd party hardware. At launch Google have promised that games will run at 4k @ 60fps as well as being able to be streamed instantly to YouTube at 4k @ 60fps. Furthermore Google have made a promise to roll out 8k @ 60fps in the future.
As a starting presentation Google have declared war on their competition, stating that they want to take a big chunk of the market share. Announcing that Stadia is more powerful than both the PlayStation 4 and the XBOX One X combined is, to me, a somewhat miracle in terms of the technological advances that have been made over the course of this last console generation. Promising full cross party play with their competitors so that the user can access save files across all platforms to this one service will open up Google’s reach to a potential audience that are always looking for something new, exciting and ultimately convenient.
With Stadia’s ease of use and ability to use any hardware that has an internet connection and Google Chrome. Google are laying down the gauntlet to their long time tech competitor Microsoft who are no doubt the market leaders of PC gaming. With the user, in theory, no longer needing to spend vast amounts to upgrade their hardware and software in order to run the latest game.
By announcing full seamless, integration with YouTube, Google are aggressively challenging Amazon and Twitch, the streamers home of choice for gameplay in order to offer their users something more. I say this because we all know that users will choose convenience over quality and Stadia by all accounts have announced both over their rival.
And this is just the start. Google have announced the launch of their own game development studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment that will develop games exclusively for this platform. They have a wireless controller that automatically connects with the device that you are using Stadia to stream games from, though I believe that this is not needed to be able to play using Stadia it is still something for Google to sell to an audience.
However, what has not been discussed is price, how much does Stadia cost? Is it a subscription service like PlayStation Plus or X-BOX Games Pass that are slowly moving to a games like Netflix type service or does the customer buy the games individually? Servers cost money to run and a service like this has to show good value for money or customers will not pay like Nintendo have seen with their low paid subscriptions for their Nintendo Online service.
And more importantly, how will the competition react to Google’s announcement? Amazon/Twitch will not let go of their video streaming share of the market without a fight. They are a company, similar to Google who have server farms across the world and could compete with Google with a similar service, will they join the console wars? PlayStation, X-BOX and Nintendo who are currently all grounded in tradition, selling hardware and physical media with slow laborious download times will have to up their game going forward. If Stadia works, if Google delivers, (and they are big ‘ifs’) we could be looking at the future of not just gaming but computing and entertainment.