The video game industry generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. It has been that games sales tipped the scales in 2018 to the tune of $43+ billion in 2018 alone. That is why no one was surprised by the rumors that both Google and Apple were planning to dip their toes even further into the lucrative waters. At the end of March 2019, those rumors became real when Google announced, ‘Google Stadia’ and Apple announce ‘Apple Arcade.’ Stadia will be the primary/only focus of this writing. I want to go over some of those possible futures and just give my thoughts in general on the topic.
So, let’s talk about Google Stadia. Stadia is a service that allows one to play AAA like game titles without having to have a “beast pc rig” or an expensive console. The games will be run hardware at Googles data centers all over the world, aka a cloud-based game streaming service. Google is not the first company to try this. There have been others, but no one seems to be able to crack the code. Google claims that customer of the service will be able to stream games lag-free at 4k 60 frames a second. I have seen their demos during the announcement, and while I am impressed, I have my doubts. The Mountain View company has not released minimum internet speed specs. The average speed here in the United States is 93Mbps by 22.79Mbps for home HSD service these numbers are much lower in rural America. The devices Google says you will be able to use are any device you have Chrome on, i.e., Chromebooks, Android phones/tablets, and Chromecast, all wireless devices so your speeds could be only 30% of the above speed.
Stadia is both a good thing and a bad thing for Indi game developers. On the one hand, you have yet another way to distribute your game without limiting yourself to the hardware your player is using. On the other side, by being on this service, you are pretty much at the mercy of Google who can take your game down if someone finds your game offensive or if they just feel like it. That is the price you pay when you don’t control 100% of your IP. for users, you won’t have to wait an hour to start playing your game. You pick your game, and you are ready to play within a few seconds. What really sucks is that if the Wi-Fi/HSD in your home is down, you will not be able to play any of your games because there is no offline storage on your Chromecast. One last possible hurdle is that if you are purchasing games through the service and Google shuts the service down you no longer have access to your games which is going to suck.
Stadia is an exciting gamble for google. Very often the company gets to the 70% mark when it comes to product development, and they just stop or completely forget what it is they are trying to accomplish (remember the Nexus Q). In the months leading up to Launch date for Stadia Google needs to develop a plan and a marketing strategy. Every ‘I’ needs to be dotted, and every ‘t’ needs to be crossed.
I am looking forward to seeing what future is in store for stadia.