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Google’s Stadia and the Beginning of the Streaming Wars

An article by Stephanie Skiles

I delivered a news blurb on Monday about a mysterious announcement from Google. Streaming service. “The Netflix for video games”. A possible console. On Tuesday, Google revealed their plans at the 2019 Game Developers Conference (GDC). What followed was a low murmur of excitement and skepticism.

What We Know

Google presented Stadia at GDC. Not the console many were hypothesizing, but a “place”. What Google called a “virtual stadium”, for the future of games to be played anywhere. Stadia will even allow someone watching a clip of the game to, with a click of a button, open that same game and jump in where the clip was recorded. And, perhaps by the time of unveiling, this can all be done through the Stadia’s controller, connected directly to the gaming server. This service can be played on Google Chrome, Chromecast and on Android devices (initially), with the promise of a wider range of availability in the future. The arrival date? We can expect the service to be available in some form this year.

What We Don’t Know

Cost. Will it be subscription based? Will we have the chance to purchase games if desired? Google has yet to answer the technical and financial questions that most of us as are left asking ourselves since seeing their presentation. For a service that could possibly be available this year, the community is missing key information.

What We’re Worried About

Their heavy dependence on Youtube for streamer interactivity. Youtube has been a swamp for streamers for years, some trudging their way through the muck and making the best of it while others get stuck and turn back for the greener, more streamer-friendly pastures of Mixer or Twitch. And while the thought of accessing a gaming library with no download stalls or graphic concerns is enticing, streaming, as discussed in Monday’s article, requires quality broadband connections that even gamers in bustling cities (I lived in an area just north of Boston for a year and had horrible internet options) may not have access to. And if you’re traveling and that connection wanes, so does your access to the games. It’s like being given a blueprint for a new weapon but then finding out you need legendary items to craft it.

Final Thoughts

Most are saying what Google presented on Tuesday is just a window into the future of gaming. A great idea on paper but may lack the industry and the technology to make it successful in 2019/2020. But Google, as always, is determined – snatching up some top talent (Phil Harrison formerly of Sony and Microsoft, Jade Raymond formerly of Sony/EA/Ubisoft and XBox Live

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