At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this week Google threw their hat into the ring with their own take on the future of gaming. Called Stadia it combines a number of Google’s services into a streaming platform that allows to experience modern gaming regardless of the hardware they are using. Watch the video below to see it in action and more.
This very much seems (to me) like it’s games are powered by YouTube – if you can get good quality videos on your device using their app then you probably will get similar quality of visuals with games on Stadia. There’s a few things that show promise:
There is no “hardware generation” – advances in games can sometimes be tied with similar advances in the machines running them so if you want the latest in a shooter franchise it might also need an upgraded console or new video card for your PC. With that now being handled at the server level the only hardware you are concerned with is what you need to get it running to your satisfaction.
Patches are not your problem – when a game is updated all the work is done on Google’s side. That doesn’t mean there will never be maintenance periods or outages but the fault won’t be because you’re waiting to download an update.
YouTube – the strong ties to Stadia likely is a sign that any device that has a YouTube app might just be another gaming machine. Would be an interesting prospect to think that you could be streaming Stadia games to an Xbox One through its YouTube app.
Opportunities for classic games – this shouldn’t just apply for new games… wouldn’t it be great to think old games could be accessible too? For people wanting a taste of old arcade, console or PC games this might give them an opportunity to do so without experimenting with emulators or risk buying old machines off eBay.
There’s also are a few things I’m not sure about and some of these could raise concerns for people:
Privacy – all your games are basically playing through YouTube and with a click of a button are immediately streamed to others as well. That means Google’s services are doing some level of storage and processing of what you’re playing. It might also be too easy to make a mistake and accidentally broadcast what you are doing to the whole world which might not be what you want depending on your choice of game.
Censorship – games containing explicit content may find themselves unable to be part of this new wave of gaming. Whether it be violent or sexual in nature there may be a lot of blocks in place to prevent those types of games from being able to compete on this stage. Though I’m sure for something like Grand Theft Auto (if it came to the platform) there’d be exceptions. Games such as this and other niche titles have sometimes relied on players being able to import the games from other regions – with Stadia that option no longer exists.
Network – In the end all this is only as good as your Internet services. If you have both low bandwidth and a small data cap you’ve got no chance. Then there’s also other considerations such as the quality of your own WiFi connections which may impact the responsiveness of the games you are playing.
Cost – So… how much is this going to cost? Do you purchase titles or are you subscribing to a catalogue? They have a store but what options do you have? With PlayStation Now already available and a likelihood that Xbox Game Pass will soon include a cloud solution there’s going to be strong competition and the platform that takes the early lead might be the one that presents the best value. For Google which is the newest entrant to gaming that might mean undercutting everyone to get their foot in the door.
What are your thoughts on Stadia? Feel free to comment below. 🙂