An argument for google stadia
Google Stadia is a cloud operating service operated by Google. This will effectively allow users to play streamed games to their devices (think Netflix but for video games). According to Google, this service will allow gamers to stream games to their devices (such as their phones, tablets, personal computers and laptops, televisions etc.) regardless of the devices hardware capabilities. This means, effectively, you will be able to play a game up to 4K resolution (of course if the device outputs in 4K) on any device which supports the Google Stadia application. Initial reception has been positive, with previewers stating how it met and in some cases even exceeded their expectations, going further to point out that the service had low latency and felt as if the games were being played locally. A few also noted that the service sometimes lagged or the game would compress its screen resolution while running. Google released an official spec graph which details the internet speed required in order to stream games at different resolutions. According to Google, it will be possible to stream 4K gaming at 60 fps with HDR Video with an internet speed of 35 Mbps.
A number of prominent gaming personalities seem sceptical as to how well it will actually run and some feel that they will be relinquishing actual ownership of their games, as they will only be able to access their games online via Stadia and they will not physically own anything themselves. Google have stated that it will be a subscription based service: one plan being free, offering the 'base' service which allows up to 1080p at 60 fps with Stereo sound and no access to a free games library; and the other a 'Pro' service, costing £8.99 and offering up to 4K at 60 fps, 5.1 surround sound and access to a free games library that will grow over time. Both subscription types allow users to buy games whenever they want, meaning that if they do not have access to the Pro subscription, they will still be able to access their purchased game library (presumably only in 1080p). Google have said the idea behind the Stadia is to allow people to seamlessly and instantly go from watching a trailer for a game to actually playing it. It will allow players to instantly stream their footage to YouTube as well, sharing their gameplay with others. Google has confirmed it will be compatible with other devices and consoles too. It can be used on Televisions via a Chrome cast Ultra and Google have also designed their own controller for it.
The games that will be available for Google Stadia are:
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
Destroy All Humans!
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Farming Simulator 19
Final Fantasy 15
Football Manager 2020
Get Packed (Stadia Exclusive)
Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Gods & Monsters
Gylt (Google Stadia exclusive)
Just Dance 2020
Mortal Kombat 11
Orcs Must Die!
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
The Crew 2
The Division 2
The Elder Scrolls Online
Tomb Raider Trilogy (Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider)
What excites me the most about Stadia is the fact that Google are opening their own game development studio(s). Google are a company that have a record of quality products and services and have a large financial backing. Whether a game is good or bad is mostly subjective, but I can't imagine google developing a game that isn't at least severely polished. The types of games and video game experiences that Google will hopefully go on to create is a fact that a lot of individuals who have covered Stadia seem to gloss over or ignore outright.
It is hard to have an opinion on the Stadia.
The pros seem to be:
· Allows users to play games at their max settings from a variety of devices
· Allows users to play games at their max settings without spending a large amount of money on Hardware
· Users will be able to play games instantly
· Users will be able to play their purchased games without having to bring the hardware with them (as long as they have access to a device with a good internet connection, a google browser and a controller)
· Will help combat piracy due to its always online requirement
· Users will be able to access their Stadia game library from anywhere they are if they have a compatible device and fast enough internet
The cons seem to be:
· No real sense of ownership as users will not have any physical games or hardware (other than the device used for streaming of course)
· Unusable without an internet connection
Although the pros seem to far out weigh the cons, lets take a deeper look. An always online service means that users who live in areas with a slow or non existent internet connection wont be able to use the service well or at all. I live in London and have no issue whatsoever with internet speeds, but there are places around the world including places in the UK and in the USA, where a reliable internet provider isn't so readily available. Additionally, (and i know this is nigh-impossible) google were to go under and cease business, users would lose the library of games that they had previously paid for. Having to solely rely on Google's servers to some is a huge gamble, especially when you consider that there have been a few recent instances where Googles' services have been unavailable. I personally would not pay £49.99 for a AAA game, if I was only able to play it online via Stadia. I think Stadia is a brilliant idea but its success relies solely on its business model. I think it is much more reasonable for Google to maybe charge a small additional fee for users who wish to use their service once they have already purchased a digital game. As an example, imagine buying Red Dead Redemption II for £49.99 and having the option to pay an additional £10 - £20 to also unlock the ability to play the game via Stadia. Imagine playing Red Dead Redemption II via Stadia, while you are waiting for the game itself to download to your chosen hardware. Stadia offering a growing games library for its Pro subscribers as well as this ability, would personally make it a no-brainer for me. I do believe the pro's far outweigh the cons, but do understand the scepticism it is being faced with.
Listening to the sceptics reminds me of how the Nintendo Switch was first received. I for one was extremely excited about the Nintendo Switch, as I felt that portable AAA gaming had never been done correctly in the past. I felt that the original PlayStation Portable would fill this gap and remember getting one the month it came out. the PSP could have been brilliant but the one area that it fell flat on its face was its gaming library. There were a handful of games that were good on the PSP and the removal of the R2 and L2 buttons made playing some games uncomfortable and awkward. Nintendo have always provided us with the closest thing to AAA handheld gaming and hearing that their new console would be a hybrid had me ecstatic. The consensus online was relatively mixed, with the Nintendo die-hard fans instantly being on board, whereas others instantly dismissed the console, claiming it was too weak and that nobody would buy one. I would love for Google to do a deal with Nintendo, which would allow users to play all of the games available in their Stadia games library on the Switch. Whenever I play a game on my Personal computer or PlayStation 4 that the Switch is too weak to handle (or major graphical features would have to be cut/ reduced in order for it to run on the Switch a la the Witcher 3) I find myself wishing that the game was available on the Switch and I feel game streaming is the answer.
Whether Stadia is the game changer (no pun intended) Google think it is going to be or if it will be a passing fad which does not pick up (like the Onlive service released in 2003) remains to be seen. One thing I feel is for certain: cloud gaming is the future and is here to stay.