In March 2019, during 2019 Game Developers Conference, Google announced something, that tipped to change the way people play games altogether. It was a surprise since software giant Google never had any direct contribution towards gaming industry. Google formally announced its upcoming cloud gaming service, Google Stadia. Google said that the service would be capable of streaming video games up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with support for high-dynamic-range, to players via the company’s numerous data centers across the globe, provided they are using a sufficiently high-speed Internet connection. It will be accessible through the Google Chrome web browser on desktop computers, or through the smartphones, tablets, smart televisions, digital media players, and Chromecast. We will discuss in this article as to how Stadia is intended to overhaul hardware competitors like Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
What are Stadia’s features?
Stadia is cloud streaming service. Unlike conventional gaming consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo, Stadia does not require any additional computer hardware. The device only requires internet connection and support for Google Chrome. The internet speed for 720p streaming at 60 fps for Stereo sound being 10 Megabits/sec, 1080p HDR video streaming at60 fps for 5.1 surround sound being 20 Megabits/sec and 35 Megabits/sec for 4k HDR video streaming at 60 fps with 5.1 surround sound. Google expects that they would be able to deliver streaming of 8k resolution at 120 fps for the future. Players can start games without having to download new content to their personal device and can also opt to record or stream their sessions onto YouTube through Stadia. Viewers of such streams can launch the games directly from the stream with the same save state that they were just watching.
What are the packages and their pricing?
Google developed the controller for Stadia. The controller includes two thumb sticks, a directional pad, four main face buttons, two sets of shoulder buttons, and five additional controller face buttons. The controller has the capability of connection over a wireless network, rather than through the device that the user is playing on, as to reduce the latency of controller communication with Stadia services. The controller will be available in a variation of four colors at its launch. During its GDC 2019 keynote reveal, Google confirmed that the controller would also feature Google Assistant, which will automatically search YouTube for relevant, helpful videos related to the game they are currently playing at the touch of a key.
Stadia will be different to Netflix, users would be required to purchase games to stream via Stadia rather than pay for access to a library of games. Stadia will offer two tiers of service, a free Base level and a monthly subscription Pro level. The Pro tier will be approximately US$10 per month, but allows users to access higher streaming rates, access a library of free games over time, and get discounts on other games offered for Stadia. The service is expected to launch by 19th November, 2019 with a Founder’s Pack, which includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, three months of Pro service, and an additional three months of pro service to gift to a friend at a price of 129$.
Titles like Destiny 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Mortal Kombat 11 , Samurai Showdown with many others are expected to be available at the 19th November launch, with many games like The Crew 2, Football Manager 2020, Marvel’s Avengers along with many more titles expected to feature in the Stadia’s game library.
Microsoft-Sony Partnership for their streaming service
Microsoft and Sony, two rivals who compete in the gaming hardware segment with their Xbox and PlayStation respectively, announced a partnership just few months after the announcement of Google Stadia. Both companies intend to work on a game streaming service of their own, similar to Google Stadia. The service would use Microsoft’s Azure cloud resources for its streaming platform.
“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation, our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
What are the future prospects?
The establishment of this partnership between Microsoft and Sony shows the amount of scope, the Stadia platform has, and has forced the two gaming hardware giants Microsoft and Sony, to collaborate and work together to compete against Google’s Stadia.
In 2018, Video Gaming industry alone generated a revenue of approximately 140 billion dollars. With Microsoft and Sony holding almost 99% gaming hardware market share, Google has rolled the dice to revolutionize gaming industry by shifting away from hardware-based to streaming-based. Google intend to take out some market share from Microsoft and Sony in this lucrative business. However, with the partnership between Microsoft and Sony on the horizon, we still have to wait until the reception of Google Stadia to see how the gaming industry shapes up with this game streaming service trend.