The curtain has officially been lifted on Google’s vision for the future of video games, and if they are able to deliver on the goal, cloud gaming will mark a drastic shift for the industry. Cloud computing seems to be a natural progression in the move toward an all digital world of video games. Physical sales have steadily declined over the past few years as console and PC gaming becomes more popular by the day. Yet, developers and consumers are the victim of hardware limitations. Stadia, which was announced during GDC, will break this barrier and strive to offer high quality gaming experiences regardless of the device you are playing on.
Google’s newly announced platform, Stadia, will promise to bring 1080p and 60fps quality gaming to the masses with support for 4K HDR and even 8K with 120fps down the line. The staggering hardware that will be utilized at Google’s data centers allows for seamless integration when moving from screen to screen. The company also introduced its controller, which connects via WiFi to reduce the latency with input lag during play sessions.
Google envisions the interweaving of developer, streamer, and gamer into one. Developers are able to create the games using their traditional game engines while easily building their games to run on Google’s AMD architecture. Google even briefly showed a picture of a standalone computer that will make this even easier. The streamer will be able to easily broadcast gameplay on YouTube for all to watch. The gamer can forgo the constraints of traditional gaming practices such as patches, software downloads, and lagging multiplayer experiences.
Google is perhaps the perfect company to undertake such an endeavor. The technology giant clearly has the resources and infrastructure to back up the proclamations they have made for Stadia. Sony and Microsoft have floated the ideas about streaming services. Sony has PlayStation Now, which offers a bevy of games across its generations of PlayStation consoles. It certainly has its hiccups such as wait times to jump into certain games. Microsoft does not currently offer a streaming service, but it has recently begun to expand its platform and the recent rumors surrounding Xbox Live and even Xbox Game Pass coming to the Nintendo Switch can back this up. Nintendo itself does not offer streaming options, but third party developer,Capcom, has already begun offering Resident Evil Biohazard on the Switch as a stream only game.
Unfortunately, we did not receive any substantial information regarding a release date or the business model that the Google plans to use when Stadia becomes available. In all likelihood, Google will take the monthly subscription approach, which has become very popular. The question is how the service will be offered. Will there be a game store where a plethora of content will be available to play instantly. Can you purchase the rights to stream a game similar to purchasing a game on the Steam or Epic Store? Will new releases be immediately available on the service? You can probably predict that Google will approach Stadia aggressively, and offer as many new games as possible for the user base. Google showed off the user having the option to easily begin playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey after viewing the trailer for the game on YouTube. There will most likely be an integrated service that will sync your subscription across Google’s platforms to make this implementation easy.
There will be more time to discuss the full implications of Stadia on the entire landscape of the gaming industry. It will be interesting to see if there is any impact on how developers create their games considering they will most likely continue to develop for consoles and have to adhere to certain hardware restrictions. Another area of interest is whether or not Google is able to bring in non-traditional gamers into this new platform. Over the course of this year, we will likely learn a great deal more about Stadia providing us with more time to ponder how this new platform will change the way we experience video games.
*Photo Credit- UnSplash: Alex Haney