Last week Google announced they intend to launch Stadia later this year, a new online “game platform for everyone”. The news came at their the Game Developers Conference 2019 keynote last Wednesday morning and represents a major shift in the video game.
The announcement wasn’t a complete surprise as Google offered a sneak-peak of their new gaming initiative in 2018. Online game-streaming is not an original idea in itself, with other companies attempting to unite gaming and streaming on a number of occasions. However, being able to create a reliable online streaming service for games has proved more difficult than one would imagine – until now.
For an industry that has seen major developments in terms of graphics and gameplay, the way in which we access video games hasn’t changed all the much. In order to play games we need to buy a game’s consoles and the games which are available for those consoles.
The world of video games has been dominated by three major players – Sony (PlayStation) Microsoft (X-box) and Nintendo – for at least the past 20 years, so the news that Google wants to shake-up the industry via an online streaming service might impact the games industry in the same way that Netflix shook up the film and TV market.
The major innovation that Stadia will offer is that people will no longer need to buy a game’s console. Instead, they will be able to play games across multiple devices, whether that’s on your computer, tablet, TV or phone. All you need is a Stadia subscription, a controller and the internet, and you’re ready to play.
Google’s digital and economic dominance means that it is well placed to take a leap into a contested but growing market with an innovative new service. The video game industry was estimated to be around $138 billion dollars last year alone. E-sports are also becoming more mainstream and in-game purchases have generated new forms of revenue. With billions of dollars to be made it is not surprising that Google wants to get a first-person piece of the action.
Many questions still remain about how Stadia will work and how much it will costs. The concern with Stadia is that it requires an extremely reliable and fast internet connection. This may be fine for some, but for many of us across the country, our internet is far from reliable. Despite this technical issue, as internet connectivity and speed is only likely to increase, perhaps now is the perfect time to launch Stadia.
Google wants to create “One place for all the spaces we play”. As cyber-space increasingly becomes the destination for all our entertainment needs, it does appear that streaming games online will be the future, and it looks like Google wants to be the ones to lead us there.