Google Stadia – The Future of Gaming?

Google Stadia – The Future of Gaming?

During the Game Developers Conference 2019, Google formally announced its cloud gaming platform and now, soon before E3 kicks off, they announce part of their launch lineup and their pricing model. But what is Stadia? Will this affect the future of gaming or is it all smoke and mirrors that will get abandoned in a few years like a handful of other Google products?

play-on-anything

So what is Stadia? Stadia is a cloud gaming platform claiming to be able to render and stream 4k 60fps HDR video and 5.1 surround sound from their server to the client machine. This essentially removes the need for having hardware locally that can render the game as long as you have a strong internet connection. Google is aiming to let you play your games anywhere. Literally. They are letting you play on your 4k TV using a Chromecast Ultra to stream the video, on your average PC or laptop through the Chrome browser, or even on your phone or tablet with a connected controller. Any HID-class input can be used as long as the game supports it. This is a truly seamless experience letting you enjoy your games where ever you want.

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You can think of it like Netflix for games, but it’s a little bit more nuanced than that. They currently are listing two tiers of service, Stadia Basic and Stadia Pro.  Pro costs $9.99 per month, no mention of a yearly price point yet, and allows you the full quality of service from Stadia. With Pro, you get 4k 60 fps and 5.1 surround sound and access to the ever-expanding library of games free to play. Basic is free, but the resolution is capped at 1080p 60 fps and stereo audio and you do not get to play any of the free games. Google is currently offering a Founders Edition bundle for preorder right now for $130 that includes a Chromecast Ultra and a unique Night Blue controller, along with a handful of other software bonuses. Right now I’ll be passing on that bundle just out of uncertainty about the future of the service, but man was I tempted to pick it up.

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With either tier though, you still have to buy some games. “Oh great, another digital game store,” you might be saying right now. Any and all concerns you have with digital licenses are still very valid when you look at it in comparison to Steam. Steam could easily ban you and your $40,000 library of games all of a sudden becomes unavailable. Exclusivity could still be a problem, like what’s going on with the Epic Games Store, so don’t think another controversy won’t happen here. Stadia is very much the same as all the others but they do have one unique advantage. Playing your games at any time you have a strong internet connection, and by strong connection, I mean at least 20 Mbps downstream for 1080p resolution. As I am writing this, I am waiting for my car to get serviced and staring at my MacBook Pro thinking “I could be playing a game through Stadia right now.” It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of using this service.

speed-requirement

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now like what input latency would be like or how frequently will new games be added. In addition, a lot of concerns that we already have with existing competitors are carrying over and Google’s never really had a foot in this market before. But there’s also a lot of promise for Stadia. There’s a lot of use cases for being able to play games on any device, and no need to download the game makes playing anything you want very painless. I’m excited for this tech to come to light, but not enough to be an early adopter, probably… I’m still on the fence. Founders get to start playing with the service in November while everyone else has to wait for some time in 2020. I’m curious as to how well this will do and I am looking forward to seeing if and how the service develops further.

All Images clipped from the Google Store page to pre-order the founder’s edition.

2 Replies to “Google Stadia – The Future of Gaming?”

  1. Honestly, the internet connection issue will probably keep me from even looking at this. When you live in rural Australia with large patches of no connectivity all around you, anything that tries to sell itself on mobility but requires internet access is just a waste of time.

    1. Yeah. It’s definitely not for everyone. Not yet at least. I’m hoping cloud gaming services like Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud would make ISPs start getting things together to make this viable for anyone, or maybe Elon Musk can launch his Starlink internet globally and provide good internet for the world.

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