A lot of people enjoy a proper videogame now and then, especially students who need a break from the constant cycle of studying and making assignments. What game to play and on which system is decided by your own preference of course. The most used systems nowadays are still hardware driven devices such as a PC, Sony’s Play station, Microsoft’s Xbox or Nintendo’s Wii/Switch. But did you know that the game industry is about to be shaken up by a sleeping giant in the form of a rather groundbreaking innovation? Who else could be behind such a bold move then one of the biggest and most innovative companies in the world and in this era: Google.
Google is introducing a new service called Google Stadia. With the introduction of Google Stadia a new way of gaming is introduced, namely ‘’Cloud gaming’’ or also referred to as ‘’on demand gaming’’. This topic is interesting to discuss because this might change the game industry permanently in multiple ways, at least that is my view. In the following sections I shall dive deeper into this subject to inform you about the upcoming technology and the ‘disruption’ of the gaming industry as we know it.
A new era has begun!
First of all let’s start with, what is Cloud gaming / on demand gaming actually? Following (Newzoo, 2019) who made a report on this matter, the definition is: ‘’The ability to play a game on any device without owning the physical hardware required to process it or needing a local copy of the game itself’’. This means that soon people will be able to play games without the high initial investment in hardware. Streaming games or even a virtual PC on a cloud server is the upcoming trend. It can be seen that the industry is changing from games as a product to games as a service. You can see it as the gaming equivalent of Netflix, were you can pay a monthly subscription to gain access to the content.
Although it has to be mentioned that Stadia is not the only streaming service that is going to be out there. Other services are already available like Shadow, Vortex & GeForce Now to mention a few. The main difference between other services and Google Stadia is that Google Stadia will be available across multiple platforms (PC, Smartphone, Chrome browser, TV) and that the other streaming services require separate pre-purchased games. Stadia eventually provides you with a choice of subscription, in store game purchases or a combination of both. There will be a free option as well early 2020, but that will require in store purchases of your own preferred games. Current big players like Sony Play Station and Microsoft Xbox also offer some kind of streaming service with Play station plus for instance. These are not completely comparable however, since it still requires the specific hardware to play and an initial download of the games itself.
The main expected benefits of consumers will be saving time and money, especially if you are more of ‘casual gamer’. Finally, what makes Stadia really different from the others is the integration of YouTube and Google assistant on the platform itself. This will let you play games instantly via YouTube. The Google assistant provides help when you are stuck in a certain part of a game without actually leaving the videogame.
A video says more than a thousand words. As in this case, you would get a better image of what the future, in this case Google Stadia, has to offer. So with no further due:
Stadia is truly something refreshing, but this doesn’t mean that it has no downsides. There are still issues that need to be resolved in the near future. One of the biggest problems will be the bandwidth and latency. Bandwidth and latency directly impact loading time and game fluency. With certain games, like First Person Shooters (FPS-games), speed is key. So who will be loaded in first and who will have a (slight) delay? To be able to play a fair FPS-game, these issues need to be resolved. Fortunately 5G is expected to be introduced relatively soon and this could take away most of the issues if implemented correctly. Ownership of the games will be one of the main discussion points, since games can be bought or played via subscription. But will you still own the games if you decide to quit Stadia altogether? There are no clear answers to that question yet. To play you always need to be online as far as I am aware. Google is highly dependent on their mega servers/computers they will create in countries to enable us to play. So some kind of error or malfunction in their server / mega PC might have an direct impact on the ability to use the platform. Finally there is still the question: will this be the next best thing or a lost treasure like the Google glasses?
Industry disruption & the business model
The greatest disruption is that Google Stadia will be competing with multiple markets at the same time (multi-touch-point competition). This changes the way that other competitors have to compete with their current and upcoming products/services. Changes in price and accessibility are highly likely to occur in the near future. This doesn’t mean that this new service will replace more conventional ways of gaming. At first it is expected to be an addition to the current industry. If it will replace modern-day gaming is still the question that depends on how this industry will develop and on how the main competitors will react to this disruption. Stadia’s main business model is based on a monthly subscription (premium), but they will also generate income with in-store purchases where they will receive a certain margin from. Lastly, the free version that is expected early 2020 will highly likely feature advertisement. It is not only consumers they target, but their focus is also aimed at developers of games. Activating developers to be creative and to use this new platform to stretch the limits of game design. If you are interested take a look at their developers website: https://stadia.dev/
One thing is sure, the videogame industry and its development is permanently affected by the introduction of cloud gaming. The change has begun and the industry will probably not be the same again. Do you have an opinion on this matter. Maybe something to add? Please feel free to state your opinion. Comments are welcome as well.
- Newzoo’s Global Cloud Gaming Report. (2019). Retrieved from https://newzoo.com/pages/global-cloud-gaming-report/
- Stadia: Build a new generation of games. (2019). Retrieved from https://stadia.dev/