Photo by Rohit Choudhari on Unsplash
Google Stadia is Google's latest product and service offering that was announced in March. Stadia promises to deliver 4K 60 fps game streaming to basically any device running Chrome coming this fall. The keynote video was very impressive with many promises and raised just as many questions.
As far as easy wins for Google, Stadia is priced at a very low "use what you got" price point. This will be its main way of getting users to at least try. There really isn't any investment if you have a computer, mouse, keyboard, and high speed internet. Three key points that I want to elaborate on further though are latency, multiplayer gaming, and development.
Latency can cause the difference between winning and losing an online match. I wanted to touch on this point with Stadia because they approach this problem with two separate solutions. In other streaming video games services, the user typically uses a controller connected to a computer or tablet. Below is the current latency data chain:
button press -> computer -> processing -> internet -> online game server
Stadia on the other hand, removes parts of this chain to reduce the points of latency. The specific hardware that achieves this is the WiFi controller. The controller itself connects directly to the internet in order to bypass the local processing.
button press ->
computer-> processing -> internet -> online game server
In my opinion, this will not fix the latency problem from rendering in a server farm, but is a step closer.
The second benefit that I can see with Stadia is the gaming platform itself. Every other online game streaming platform pits streaming players alongside regular low latency players. Stadia seems to be removing this co-mingling of players and giving everyone an equal streaming only platform. Google wants to be able to control the online gaming experience from controller to the execution of code on their servers.
This won’t make the multiplayer experience as low latency as a traditional desktop gaming experience, but it will put all of the player on the same latency playing field. Stadia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this and be able to compete against traditional gaming mostly by exclusives or Stadia only matchmaking.
Google is not only providing a gaming service, but they are also providing the tools to fully develop games built for Stadia. As mentioned in the previous section, this is going to either make or break their competitive edge. In order to get a large audience playing on Stadia, Stadia needs to have exclusive games that can only run on their platform.
Stadia offers features such as 1000+ player games, multi device gameplay, and multi stream local multiplayer. These features are compelling, but the question remains if developers will want to abandon popular cross platform gaming engines like Unity in order to purely target Stadia and these compelling features. Google will have to solve the development chicken and egg problem if they want to dominate the game streaming market. Developers want a popular platform before developing and the platform needs developers and compelling games before becoming popular.
Android Authority goes into a few more of the sparse specifics that Google mentioned in the keynote.
A gaming platform is nothing without games, while Google hasn’t given us too many specifics about 3rd party games just yet, Google says more than 100 studios are hard at work to bring games to Stadia. So far the only titles we can really confirm are Doom Eternal and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
My main concern is studio support, and Google did not mention many details about developers. It is concerning to have an upcoming platform but very few confirmed titles, studios, or real demos. This is another, we will have to wait and see point of the platform.
We will have to wait and see if Google will continue the investment and give the time it will take for Stadia’s popularity. One major concern with this issue is how Google has a tendency to kill services whenever they feel like it didn’t take off. Let’s see if Stadia will be the next Gmail or if it will wash away with Google Wave.