A new age of gaming has arrived.
This may make you think of some fancy new, and rather expensive console Microsoft or Sony are launching, but no. In the not-so-distant future, it appears that all we will need to play high-end games are just, a controller, a screen and a really fast internet connection.
Google, the current world leader in all things mobile are finally dipping their toes into a market they have absolutely no stronghold in, gaming.
Instead of spending billions of dollars creating analogue technology that will be sold to consumers, Google is instead focusing on the gaming consumers they already have, game viewers. Google-owned streaming service YouTube is home to many professional gamers who broadcast their gaming sessions to millions of fans who eagerly watch them display expertise in wildly popular franchises like Fortnite and FIFA.
Google’s entire marketing strategy lies in this department, and it’s rather wild, and extremely exciting.
Imagine this: What if when you’re watching these people play, you could just click a button and play the game yourself, no new hardware required and just on the device you are currently using? I know, this sounds like a catch or some sick joke right? Because we all know that you need to spend thousands of cedis on equipment to get the kind of high-end set-up most gamers have; well Google says, no more!
Google Stadia trades out the intermediary of a console for very powerful servers, capable of doing all your game processing remotely and transmitting your content directly to any screen you choose, all you need is a way of controlling the characters.
To make this even more amazing, Google states that they are going to make it possible to use any controller you have lying around at home, without the need to even go out and get the controller they displayed in their event yesterday.
I bet you’re giddy with excitement right now, trust me, I am too, but let’s step back for a minute and analyze all this for a minute.
We’ve all been taught that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and as expected, there are a lot of questions about Google Stadia that has us wondering. So let’s attempt to answer a few of those.
How Much Will The Service Cost?
If you’re an avid gamer like me, you know that there are definite points where you’ll need to fork out some cash: when you’re purchasing the console hardware and when you’re buying and playing the game. This is a system that has been active since the inception of gaming, since the days of the Nintendo 64 and its blocky cartridges. It’s not too hard to imagine that Google will follow this same trend, maybe in the trial stage of Stadia, just to get gamers acquainted with the system before moving towards a streamlined subscription service like we see on popular streaming services like Netflix, Spotify and the like.
How Fast Does Your Connection Have To Be?
In Google’s Stadia launch event, they were very clear about how fast internet connections will have to be to use Stadia without any hitches. Google recommends a connection of “approximately 25 Mbps” for a full HD 1080p resolution stream at 60 frames per second. Now, considering that the average fixed broadband speed in the US, where Stadia is being launched first, is 96 Mbps, this should be no issue at all. However, if you are living in a place with no broadband coverage and will be relying on rural internet speeds, then you’ll likely be unable to reach the speeds needed to stream the games with no lag. In Ghana, the fastest 4G network provider MTN provides peak internet speeds of about 12.5 Mbps, exactly half of what Google recommends to use the service. As a result, switching to their broadband offering may be a safer bet to use this service when out does launch worldwide. For a start, Google state that they are going to be launching Stadia in the US, UK, Canada and most of Europe.
How Will Google Stadia’s Graphics Look?
Aside from some amazing shots we got of Assassins Creed being played, we know that Google’s cloud servers are capable of delivering a mind-blowing 10.7 teraflops of power utilizing a custom AMD GPU. Just to put this into perspective, this is more that two times the 4.2 teraflops of power the PS4 Pro can deliver, as well as more than the 6 teraflops of power the Xbox One X can juice out, making it even possible to surpass the graphical capabilities of the highest-end consoles on the market today. Google will definitely be able to deliver some incredible graphics to you, but that largely depends on your internet connection to receive their data. The better the internet, the better the gaming experience it seems.
How Many Titles Will Be Available On Google Stadia?
With the launch of any gaming service which doesn’t have Xbox, Playstation or Wii attached to its name, we always wonder whether our favorite games will be available on it and if it’ll be reliable enough to warrant a switch. Google has partially answered some of these questions by hiring a lot of industry talent to undertake this massively ambitious project. They have brought on board Phil Harrison, who is a former executive at both Sony and Microsoft to lead the Stadia project. They’ve also brought in Jade Raymond, a previous employee at gaming giants Sony, EA and Ubisoft, to head up the company’s first-party games. This gives a hint that popular titles by these companies like FIFA, Madden, Need For Speed, Tomb Raider, and of course Assassins Creed, will be likely to appear on Google Stadia in it’s first run. Google also showcased a single new title, Doom Eternal, running on Stadia, as well as promising that more than 100 studios already have development kits to design games for Stadia, which is also very promising.
When Will The Service Launch?
Google Stadia is slated for a launch in some form, likely a trial, in 2019, but as for an exact date, Google decided to keep it vague for now. Google has a lot of questions to answer and a lot of demonstrations to do, and it promised to do that in the summer, probably at its next Google IO event, which leaves us wondering why Google even decided to announce Stadia at all yesterday, given that it seems they aren’t even ready to answer some pertinent questions relating to such a potentially ground-breaking development. At this point we can only wait to see how this will play out.
So, is Google Stadia exciting? Yes. Is Google Stadia going to be the future of gaming? Maybe. Will Google Stadia be able to fully replace the analogue gaming era that has dominated over three different generations? Probably not, and Google likely know this, and they would’t have invested billions of dollars into this project if they didn’t think it was worth it.
At this point, we can only wait and see if Google Stadia will end up being Google’s version of The Zune, or rather the next Netflix. Either way. we’re in for an interesting gaming year in 2019.