Up For Debate - Is Google Stadia the Future of Gaming?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Mar 24, 2019 4:00 PM

Google revealed Stadia this week to a chorus of oohs, aaahs, shrugs and yawns. This was no console. This was Google's vision of a future where we have no consoles, no desktop PCs, no local hardware. Gaming outside of the boxes, playing everything in the cloud.

While Google may be a tech giant though, it's no Apple in terms of reliability. Google throwing its weight behind something means nearly nothing, its 20-year history littered with the carcasses of failed ideas and abandoned projects. Google Stadia felt like a taste of the future, but we're not sure whether that taste was sweet or sour.

Fast, Reliable Connections Are Not Widespread

The biggest elephant in the room is connection speeds and availability. Google is suggesting a minimum of around 15Mb/s for 720p/60, rising to 25Mb/s for 1080p/60. For 4K, Google Stadia head honcho Phil Harrison suggests a minimum of 30Mb/s, although logically you’d have to be looking at 100Mb/s to achieve something approaching satisfactory quality.

Plenty of people have these sorts of net speeds. Plenty more don’t. Of the 200 countries whose net data is publicly available, just 21 have average speeds above 25Mb/s. The US squeaks in with 25.86Mb/s average, while countries such as the UK, Russia, Austria, Ireland, Australia, Italy, and more, all have average speeds well under 20Mb/s. This is a major limiting factor right now, although if Google can stick to its promise of 25Mb/s for 1080p/60, with low latency, then there could be potential for wide-scale adoption in the right countries.

Where Are The Games?

Announcing a game streaming service is all well and good, but what use is any of it without the games. They have to be the single most important thing of any gaming service. We have no doubt Stadia will get plenty eventually, but all we got to see during the showcase was Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a game we’ve all been able to play for the past six months. Doom Eternal was talked about but Google wasn’t confident enough to show it on-stage.

However, Google has opened up a new Stadia Games and Entertainment division that will be dedicated to bringing in exclusives for the platform, although it feels as if these could be a long way from coming to fruition. More than 100 devkits have been handed out to third parties though, and the porting process sounds as if it could be relatively painless. We have to take the word of Id Software on that though, a supremely talented, big budget, tech-savvy studio that could probably get Doom Eternal running on a toaster before the toast pops up.

Google Stadia Is A Nightmare For Game Preservation

We live in an age where digital ownership is already a gigantic pain in the arse. We’ve signed over our hard-earned property to the DRM gods, all part of the blood sacrifice we had to make when moving on from physical games. With Google Stadia, this chasm between gamers and ownership grows ever wider. The games you buy won’t even exist in your town, let alone your hard drive. Everything about games will be fleeting; ephemeral. All it takes is the flick of a switch and these games are lost forever. Not even cracks can save them, existing as they on some random server farm deep in the Nevada desert.

Google Spy

Google is omnipresent; a tech giant that creeps in the dark and is acutely aware of nearly every aspect of your life. For a lot of us, Google knows our routes to work, favourite restaurants, our search history, where we like to go on holiday, where we live, who our friends are. How much more information do we need to give Google and is handing over our entire game collection to Google really the smartest decision? Google is a company built on a foundation of ads. Each and every service it has ever offered has only been a tool within which to find out more about you and deliver you more ads. Google Stadia will be no different. Google will know what you play, how long you play, when you play, where you play, what you say, who you play with, who you stream to, who you watch, and what you buy, tailoring ads to you in menus, on the store, and even in-game itself.

How Much Are The Games Going to Cost?

It takes a special sort of talent to get up on stage, talk about how great something is for an hour, and then no once mention how much it’s going to cost.

There are so many question marks over what model Google is going to adopt. It could be a Netflix-style all-you-can-eat subscription service. We may have to buy the games outright. We may have to pay for the amount of time we play. We'll probably have ad breaks between levels. It could even be a combination of all of these. Throw in ISP data caps and this could swiftly become an expensive proposition that totally negates no new hardware is required.

Google Stadia Isn’t All Bad

It can be easy to get tangled up the negatives but Stadia does also open the door to a whole new world of positives, things that just aren’t possible.

With Stadia, for example, you’ll never need to patch a game ever again. Rainbow 6: Siege’s 54GB patch wouldn’t matter one bit because it would all be updated on the server rack, leaving you just to click and play.

Which bleeds into the second, altogether more obvious point - you’d never need to wait for a game to download again. Find what you want in a store, buy it, and play it, within a matter of seconds.

Breaking down the barriers of hardware also provides near limitless potential for the experiences that can be made. Developers can create games knowing everyone will be using top-of-the-line hardware, the cloud-based infrastructure constantly evolving as technology advances. We could also see thousand-player shooters, massive space battles, or unparalleled destruction physics. Again, all that is required is any hardware that can run Chrome, breaking gaming loose from its boxes. Players can switch from their PC to their phone to their TV, instantly picking up the action right where they left off.

When the rumours were circulating Google had console hardware on the way, it never even occurred to us just how potent its combination with YouTube could be. Stadia and YouTube are built to go hand-in-hand. All of the games on Stadia can be watched on YouTube; you can start playing a game your favourite streamer’s playing with the click of a button, and save states can even be shared to allow you to play exactly the same part of a game as someone else.

And look, as I cast my eyes upwards at the wall of text I’ve written, I’m all too aware that the pros are being heavily outweighed by the cons. Watching the games industry over the past two decades has taught me one major thing that can never be underestimated though - convenience is king. The path of least resistance literally trumps everything, and when Joe Bloggs discovers he can play a game on his Macbook just by loading up Chrome then you can bet he’ll absolutely do that. If the service is reliable enough, cheap enough, and quick enough, this train is going to be hard to stop.

How fast is your internet connection?

What is your data cap?

How much would you pay to own a streaming game?

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12:31 Mar-25-2019

I been using Geforce NOW for about half a year and in my experience i quite like it to be honest it does have drawbacks like if you play a game that don't have cloud saves or poorly implemented ones (dishonored) you would have to start over

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12:36 Mar-25-2019

But the things where it mostly shines is playing multiplayer games or games that have very high system requirements and if it will cost reasionable price (eg. 10 $ a mounth), allow play games from Steam etc. I would most likely recommend it

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08:52 Mar-25-2019

Ha I knew they weren't going to strafe from the internet. It's bulls**t BTW

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03:00 Mar-25-2019

I will never support games as a service/streaming games EVER. I will always have my own rig and my game files local.

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04:48 Mar-25-2019

HELL YEAH DUDE! SAME HERE!!!!

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07:23 Mar-26-2019

i belive in having a gaming rig and owning our games but i like the idea of games as a service only problem is there arent any to begin with. Honestly its a normal game cut up and your given pieces of it and told here enjoy. how about this

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07:25 Mar-26-2019

Need for speed comes out as a GAAS with lets say the 2010 hot pursuit map and 40cars i purchased it and after that they release a new map and keep doing so every 4-6 months same quality same size but at varied locations snowy region desert

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07:28 Mar-26-2019

deep forest, river lands, beaches, SPace station with earth like simulated gravity (cause why the hell not), Halloween in Mexico, Fast and the furious, The hot wheels track from Forza Horizon 3 and you can use your existing 40 cars on any o

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07:33 Mar-26-2019

of the map (IF YOU PURCHASE THEM) any they release 10 new Cars every Month modern classic real vintage stuff from the 40's and so Concept cars buggeys and such, and you can buy them IF YOU WANT. now 3 years later ive dropped 10$ for cars 40

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07:38 Mar-26-2019

for the maps (ive counted 9 maps added and 36 car packs) 720 dollars in 3 years but lets say a 10$ a month subscription (for a single game too much) is only 360 fo r 3 years now yeah lets be honest no one will buy all the packs ever unless

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07:41 Mar-26-2019

its a complete edition. but yeah i dont mind getting EA's monthly subscription and play battlefield NFS Titanfall and mirror's edge for like what 10 somthing $ a month but yeah no one is making a true GAAS game yet Destiny 2 nah Division An

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07:44 Mar-26-2019

anthem are not GAAS they make a game and then rather than really making content they make microtransactions and cosmetics. Microsoft is doing something interseting with their game pass i plan on getting it for a month or 2 and wrap up the M

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07:47 Mar-26-2019

Masterchief Collection single player campaings then try out Gears of war and Forza maybe

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00:58 Mar-25-2019

A list of concerns..


#1 The last thing I need is another monthly subscription/bill to pay. I'd buy a console if I was into that.


#2 Your access to the game only lasts as long as the provider's access. So, you're 3/4 through your game and insert company here's contract with the publisher expires=you don't get to finish the game. Want a second/third playthrough but you don't own the game and neither do they....too bad.

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00:59 Mar-25-2019

#3 I like to own my games. F?ck DRM. This is the ultimate form of DRM.


#4 I love my PC building hobby. If we turn the ownership of running the game over to a 3rd party we take away the incentive for PC component makers to market to us and no longer have innovation in the market. (Basically we all end up with generic low/mid-range consoles. Ewww.) Games will further be held back by the lowest common denominators.

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00:59 Mar-25-2019

#5 Want to play online/MP? You think ping times and slow interenet/outages are a problem now...well. And wait a minute...now that matters for SP as well. No thanks.


#6 Reliable preservation of classic games for future generations....Gone.


#7 insert company here no longer has access to the game but insert other company here picks up the new contract....guess what? You now need another monthly subscription to have access to the game you just want to finish.

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01:00 Mar-25-2019

#8 insert company here doens't want to continue a contract with insert your favorite dev studio. Sequels to one of your favorite games get canceled/not made. You start crying. (Think of that awesome show on Netflix that got cancelled because that's what NF does.)

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01:00 Mar-25-2019

#9 People can barely handle "too many launchers" now. What happens when all those launchers/individual publishers each charge a monthly fee or add-on expense? NOW watch the world burn when they announce exclusives. Yikes.


#10 Mods. Mods. Mods.

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17:21 Mar-25-2019

i agree with all your points, its the ultimate control. But as i said game streaming with current problems, like input lag, video quality, internet speed requirement will never replace pc/ps/xbox.

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20:03 Mar-25-2019

I hope you're right.

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22:43 Mar-24-2019

300/15Mbps, unlimited cap. I have connection via cable and it is pretty reliable. I used to be on mobile connection, where I had option to either have 50GB cap and "unlimited" speed, based on how much 4G network could handle. Or have unlimited in terms of data and 20/5Mbps. I of course chose latter. So not too bad.

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22:45 Mar-24-2019

As for Stadia, I don't think it will be future of gaming. I doubt it will take over. I am pretty confident that it will however compete at some point. Since Google is trying to do more than just allowing you to play games. But also allow you to jump in game you watched video about, load essentially save from streamer.

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22:46 Mar-24-2019

So you could try the same level with same loadout and stuff. Also you can watch trailer, then they could give you like an hour of time to play for free or few levels for free and then pay to buy, so advertisers could easily use this to get you hooked up. Or you could watch video or walktrhough while playing...

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22:47 Mar-24-2019

Which all are cool features. Plus not to mention that Google could monetize it in different ways, to even make a free tier with ads, like replace in game posters with real ads, or product placements. And offer subscription for no ad option or even bigger subscription to give you good amount of games...

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22:49 Mar-24-2019

... you can play. Like PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass, with maybe you have to buy newest games to play now but anything big older is included, so you can wait. And a lot of people would find it easier to pay 10, 20 or even 30USD per month, than dish out 300-500 for console or 1000 for PC.

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22:51 Mar-24-2019

But I think price is going to be what makes or brakes the deal here. And limitations, like certain amount of hours per week, that would be deal breaker. But if anyone, Google has infrastructure to do it. And from tech perspective, it does look amazing. Plus there is no worries about upgrading hardware or requirements.

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22:53 Mar-24-2019

However,not everyone will be happy,eSport players, people with 144hz monitors,people wanting to re-sell games, people wanting to own their games, not lose access when subscription expires,...there will be people keeping local hardware alive and there will always be market for that.So I doubt it will replace everything.

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22:55 Mar-24-2019

But I think it will put more pressure on consoles, since it competes for same simplicity. And while internet is a problem, in a decade, things can completely change. Even within current ISP 100/6 was top tier 4 years ago, now low tier is 75/5Mbps. Also 5G is coming and it could make things better too.

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21:14 Mar-24-2019

500 mbps download 20 upload (yeah lol) here, but I am rather sceptical towards sreaming games...

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20:56 Mar-24-2019

I just threw up a little...

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20:47 Mar-24-2019

1000mbps download here(realistically more like -6-700) so I wouldn't have any problems,but this isn't the way to go.Not when much more than 50% of the population(with internet)can't get decent enough speed to play at 720p,and many people also have data caps.

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20:21 Mar-24-2019

Please don't let this be the future. Please! I beg you!

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20:09 Mar-24-2019

I have 150/150 here in the netherlands for around 50 euros per month for internet including tv.
But still this is not what i expected from google. Tbh, i think you will not see a reliable game stream service in the near future.
Internet isnt that stable around the world.. Only for some countries you will have the benefit of good internet, but the majority of the world still have crap internet.

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11:46 Mar-25-2019

I pay literally 5€ more than you for 250kb/s down and 30kb/s up lmao danke Merkel

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19:56 Mar-24-2019

Even though i have amazing internet 200/20 unlimited for 30 euros i still wouldn't want to bother with cloud gaming as i realize my connection is part of the 1% and many people have way worse internet with data caps.

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19:00 Mar-24-2019

Probably not google stadia, but something similar in 10 or 15 years, probably even more and like it or not, gaming streaming is the future, why? just looks at netflix, at first it was like i wont pay for a service that provides me movies via streaming, i wont pay for something i dont physically own, but now it is well accepted.When that time comes, i wont be playing videogames, i dont like where the industry is going to be honest, eventhouh there will be always masterpiece

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18:49 Mar-24-2019

No

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18:29 Mar-24-2019

Mods
Ownership
Offline/single player without fears of server takedown or crashes
ability to play older games years later without having to pay for them again

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18:32 Mar-24-2019

These are the reasons I prefer owning over streaming. Streaming services are being shoved in everyone's face just to keep you paying.

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18:36 Mar-24-2019

Also I won't get banned from playing an offline game, with streaming you might get banned for exploiting a bug the devs were too lazy to patch out, like Anthem.

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18:06 Mar-24-2019

If the stadia becomes mainstream then how will that effect overall gaming landscape? Will we be seeing games that are mostly targeted towards casual gamers because it will be accessible to a larger crowd of people. Games like Candy Crush,Clash Of Clans will become much more profitable then how will the triple AAA market survive parallel to it? Will the new norm be low budget free to play games with microtransactions/ads that have a large audience?

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18:07 Mar-24-2019

On thing for sure it will have a large impact on game development and the overall future of gaming as a whole.

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00:56 Mar-25-2019

It's pretty scary. That's for sure.

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17:59 Mar-24-2019

Il never pay for online streaming, id rather just stick to what i have now than do that, i dont even buy online only games that are out now, prefer my games to work fully offline and have singleplayer

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17:54 Mar-24-2019

I absolutely refuse to accept cloud gaming as the future.

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17:54 Mar-24-2019

Im getting 60 down 20 up, I might try this if its a subscription based service and I can run 1080p max graphic settings

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17:44 Mar-24-2019

This post was actually pretty informative. Didn't knew much of the stuff you wrote about google's growth. And yeah f**k games as a streaming service! I've got collector blood running through my veins! hehe

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17:31 Mar-24-2019

"To combat piracy why don't we just own everyone's hardware and track what they're doing at all times, and hide the fact somewhere in the policy no one reads"

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