It was inevitable that we would eventually reach a point in which consoles were no longer needed. If you were unable to catch Google’s GDC (Game Developers Conference) press conference, I’ll leave the video below (starts at the 17 min mark), then that time has arrived. Releasing sometime in 2019, Stadia will be Google’s cloud platform for gaming that will change the landscape…if it happens to deliver on all of its promises.
(Credit to Google)
As long as the product supports Chrome, you’ll be able to utilize Stadia and stream games directly from that product. One of the novel concepts that I found fascinating was that you could YouTube a particular game supported by Stadia and on the bottom right would be option to actually purchase and play the game. Once you press play, then you’re able to begin streaming that game. They went a step further and stated if you happen to livestream a multiplayer game, then your audience can queue up and play with you. All of this seems great in concept and in my opinion is the Stadia’s biggest selling point. There were, however, no details as to how to combat stream sniping or blocking toxic people who you don’t want to queue with you. The emphasis on the content creator and their audience is a nice touch by Google as streaming has exploded in the past few years.
During the conference, Phil Harrison, Vice President of Google, gave a quick demonstration of how there is little to no latency when you begin streaming through Chrome. It was practically seamless, but as it is a stage demo, there is obviously room for skepticism. While Google highlighted that their Data Centers will help combat latency when streaming, there was no real information as to what type of internet connection will be required to actually use Stadia. This information will more than likely be revealed in the coming months, but the fact that Google has diligently worked to ensure that lag is kept at the lowest possible level while streaming is a positive sign. Whether it works in a massive multiplayer environment will be one of the real testing points for the new platform.
At the moment, Stadia only streams in 1080P at 60 frames per second. At launch, that should expand into 4K and eventually 8K as technology continues to advance. Being able to seamlessly load games, save progress, and play via different platforms are all the things that gamers want, but once again, until this is actually seen in person, it’s all just conjecture. Also, it will be interesting to see what games will be available at launch. Will Google have titles crafted specifically for the Stadia or will they just act as a streaming platform? If the library is expansive from day one with their own exclusives, then Stadia may have a successfully launch, otherwise, without differentiation, no one’s going to bother.
Selling Stadia to the gaming community is going to prove to be a difficult task. Brand loyalty is a real obstacle and the increasing sales numbers for the different consoles are proof. There have been multiple instances of high-concept consoles failing to find early adopters, but Google does have an advantage that other developers didn’t. They have Chrome and because this web browser is practically supported on almost every device, it won’t be hard for them to market. You can almost guarantee that when Stadia releases, there will be ads everywhere regarding the platform and its supporting devices. When you use a Google app, there will more than likely be hints all around the page pushing the consumer to use Stadia, it will be difficult to ignore and if the price point isn’t something astronomically high, that in itself will be good enough to sway some consumers.
Emphasizing the connection between the developers, creators, and gamers will be paramount as we head toward the eventual release of Stadia. It was revealed at the end of the conference that the streaming platform will release sometime in 2019. There are already a number of developers on board, ID Software and Ubisoft being two of the most notable, and it looks like Google poached some of the most influential developers and engineers in the industry to help support its development. It’s difficult to not be excited because of the resources and wealth of knowledge at Google’s disposal. The risk of trying to penetrate a market dominated by Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will come with a host of challenges, but Google looks as if they’re more than confident that they will be able to compete.