Google has unveiled Stadia, a game streaming service that offers instant access, portability and freedom from a console.
The cloud-based platform does away with the need for a purpose-built PC or dedicated console such as that produced by the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony for example.
Future of gaming: streaming
The service is capable of streaming video games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and can do so on a global scale, thanks to Google’s data centres peppered across the world.
Consumers will be able to move seamlessly between devices, be it a smartphone, tablet, TV or laptop, without worrying about hardware specs.
Via the use of a ‘chromecast’ extension by Google alongside a Stadia controller, players will have access to a range of games through the Chrome browser.
Interestingly, while Google did not announce a price for the service it has been widely touted that the company will be following Netflix in moving to a subscription-based model.
Subscription models have attracted customer loyalty due to its ease of use and cost-effectiveness.
Data from EA shows the subscriber-based model has led to consumers playing significantly more games, for much longer periods and spending more than under the traditional gaming model. Evidently, the subscription model has proven successful within the industry and Google will be keen to exploit any new opportunities.
The sharp increase in player participation provides an enormous opportunity for game developers to monetise off this demand. Obsolete titles stand to attract legions of new followers and in-game purchases could help boost finances in such instances.
However, particularly for new releases, there is a major concern that games which require substantial investment may fail to receive the same demand as before, which could damage the development of game blockbusters.
Future of gaming: lag time
The streaming service may be able to play games at 4K resolution and at 60 frames per second, a basic requirement for mainstream game players, but more will need to be done to lessen the latency, or time lag, experienced with cloud-based gaming.
Exceptional cloud infrastructure and a network of Google global data centres will be essential to ensure that players experience a stable and secure connection.
Sony made ‘PlayStation Now’ has been a successful streaming gaming service but over its lifespan the Japanese tech giant has received much criticism for its problems with lag, which in turn have been blamed mostly on poor global infrastructure.
According to Google, Stadia has a performance level which is greater than the Xbox One and PS4 combined, reaching an astounding 10.7 GPU. If the connectivity concerns can be alleviated, the Stadia could become a surprise front-runner in one of the toughest consumer markets in which to get a foothold.