Google Stadia has officially launched in November 2019, although still in a limited fashion, as the company doesn’t want to rush things. This cloud gaming service wants to become the next gaming standard while beating the competition from Sony, Microsoft, or Nvidia. Still, the question is, can they succeed?
The money game
Maybe you have heard that the video game industry is already ahead or movies and entertainment business, but you might be surprised about the difference in revenue between them. While the music industry reached less $20 billion in 2018, the movie industry earned twice that much. Impressive numbers, but the gaming business produced more than $150 billion. That market is too big for Google to stay out of it, and they feel that is the perfect time to do it. There is no doubt that the company is ready to invest huge amounts of money and even suffer losses for years to come if needed. Still, let’s look at what we have now.
How does it work?
Google Stadia is a bit different from any other streaming service so far. That means that it doesn’t work like Netflix of Disney Plus since you still need to buy a game in order to stream them. The streaming is free in theory, although you will need to become a pro tier member if you want the highest resolutions and free games, which is similar to Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold services. As for the hardware – while Google is offering its vision of controller that has a direct Wi-Fi link with data centers for less lag, you can use any HID class, USB controller. As for the bandwidth required, it is pretty reasonable. 10 MB/s is enough for 720p and 60 FPS, 20 MB/s is what you need for 1080p and HDR, while for 4K gaming, the minimum is 35 MB/s. Google announced a mechanism to prevent the lag, trying to stimulate even pro players to use the service in top games that are popular in multiplayer.
What about the games?
As for the games, Stadia is still doesn’t offer much, but there will be more than 120 new games in 2020. What is available as of February 2020 are blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Borderlands 3, The Crew 2, Darksiders Genesis, Final Fantasy XV, Football Manager 2020, Mortal Kombat 11, NBA 2K20, Red Dead Redemption 2, Tomb Raider trilogy and a few others. What is interested is that Google established Stadia Games and Entertainment Division that will develop its games for Stadia. What is also planned is that some third party games will be timed-exclusive for Stadia, which might anger gamers.
Will gamers love it?
What history taught us so far is that gamers have only a limited interest in streaming games service, for many reasons. A huge error for Google would be to think that all of their problems will be solved because the internet is getting faster. For players who love online games, the key problem is lag. Google promises that it will create a buffer that will help combat things, but so far, we haven’t heard much does it work in practice. Based on journalist’s reviews, it seems at least the casual players won’t have any problems, and that the single-player experience is working like in you are playing it on your PC. The picture quality also doesn’t seem to suffer from compression and artifacts. But maybe the biggest problem is how to persuade gamers to believe in this new gaming philosophy. Some gamers love building their computers, and most of them are not happy about the idea that you first have to buy a game, and then you also need to pay to stream them on your device in the highest quality. It looks like Google Stadia might target less hardcore crowd for at least the first few years, as they are happy to come home after work or school, and play the best games almost immediately.
Give it a chance… But maybe not now!
Even if you hate the idea of game streaming services, it’s important to have an open mind. That doesn’t mean you have to jump in and shell out money now. If you have a console or a decent gaming PC, Google Stadia, at this moment, doesn’t have a lot to offer. But when an opportunity arises to try it for free, give it a go.