The Rising of Cloud Gaming: My views
- Life, IT and Video Games - Part 1/6
- The Boom of The Cloud - Part 2/6
- Game On and Heads Up! - Part 3/6
- From your Room to the Data Center - Part 4/6
- Google Stadia and Beyond - Part 5/6 ⇐ You are Here.
- Cloudy Games - Part 6/6
The New Kid On The Cloud (Gaming)
As mentioned in the very first part of this series, there's nothing new I can say about google Stadia that hasn’t been told by any big magazine. Probably, there are more articles about Google Stadia on the internet right now, than people complaining about how disappointing was the last season of Game of Thrones. But to quickly recap everything, here is what Google said about Stadia.
“This new generation of gaming is not a box. With Stadia the data center is your platform, there is no console that limits the developer's creative ideas and no console that limits where games can play. “
“As a new generation game platform, Stadia will, of course, embrace full cross-platform play and even bring game saves in progression across as well” Remember the first and second section of the third part of this series? This is the next step.
Long story short, Google Stadia as all the other cloud gaming services means no need for local gaming hardware and streaming the games directly to a variety of devices. The idea is to connect to a server running in the Google data center, which will do all the processing while streaming the game to you, meaning no longer need to download, install or patch games. However, you need to have a decent internet connection.
Stadia (I know, it sounds like a sweetener), which with lazy research I believe it means Game Arena or Stadium; wants to take the concept of just watching a video game on the internet to playing the actual video game. Allowing Youtube streamers to invite their viewers into the game at the push of a button. This integration is a key advantage of Google's service over that of its competitors, given the large gaming community presence on Youtube. Google is going to force the internet to become the biggest "LAN" party ever.
This first idea, of just watching somebody play a video game, has been criticized by “real sports” supporters. I am part of the group of geeks watching other people playing a video game, the reason? Most games have a great story, I don’t have time to play all the games I want, and some people (almost all of them) are better than me. The same example as watching a real football match; you will prefer to watch Real Madrid vs. Barcelona than any other game from an inferior league/category. It’s more enjoyable watching an experienced pro rather than a noob.
Google Stadia is upgrading this idea with the “Play Now” button. By clicking the button “you will be brought directly into the game in a browser in as quick as 5 seconds”. This idea is pretty cool if you ask me.
The Hype About Stadia
Why is Google making noise with cloud gaming now? There have been other companies offering similar solutions for a while, big and reliable companies. So, why Google? The short answer is because it's Google. It sounds vague but is true. I am pretty sure that Google has failed on many projects that never come out to see the light (and then is Google Plus), which is OK to happen to one of the tech giants of the world. But besides that, people trust google on internet and software stuff, just like I'd trust Sony for any electronic device.
Below my opinion about why the hype about Stadia and what are the key differentiators from other players, excluding the "Play Now" option previously highlighted.
The Streaming Experience. This is easily the key factor of Google Stadia since YouTube is the unbeatable and preferred video streaming platform. Google already has the software and steady algorithms to provide an excellent streaming experience. They have been streaming 4K videos for years, and they are veterans dealing with encoding and in reducing the streaming latency. They are the experts and an authority on this matter.
The Infrastructure. Google has the most massive data center infrastructure physically placed worldwide, so it will be easy for them to globally distribute the Stadia service in the future. Yet, Stadia will be initially launched in a few countries.
This sizeable worldwide infrastructure is what is called Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDN is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers. The goal is to distribute service spatially relative to end-users to provide high availability and high performance. Only Amazon and Microsoft have similar data center infrastructure. Microsoft already announced its cloud gaming platform, and Amazon is planning to do the same.
Cross-Platform. The idea of this is transferring the gaming experience across many screens devices, as long as these devices have access to a connection to the internet, you’ll have access to Stadia. This is pretty similar to the concept that other platforms like Shadow uses. So it is clear that Google is not the only one with this advantage, but one more time, they have a considerable advantage due to the streaming experience, also on any device. For phones, this options is initially available on the Pixel.
The Controller. The Stadia controller is another thing, a great addition to Google's offering. With some cool features that will benefit the game experience, the controller will also have an in-built button to allow anyone to stream or record their gaming and upload it to Youtube
The “Not So Cool” Stadia
Recently Google Stadia revealed more information about its platform. A lot of people went from the hype to “really”? I don’t want to contradict myself from the latest section cheering Google, but these are also some heads up, as always, from my humble point of view.
Gaming library. So far, I am not surprised by the gaming library offered. Also, the individual price of games is not mentioned. The gaming library was announced in the latest E3 expo, of course, it will be expanded, but so far I think it's not worthy.
The Pricing. All games must be purchased, and only the pro plan will give you the option to play in 4K, HDR video, and 5.1 surround sound. So it is not like Netflix, that even with the basic plan, you get to watch whole movies and TV libraries. You pay $10 monthly for having better specs, plus you need to buy every game separately. Not cool, when PlayStation Now can cost you $8.3 monthly (if you get the 12-month subscription) for +750 games. I know, with PlayStation Now you still require the console or a PC to connect, but most gamers already have this hardware.
Data caps. “Were you to stream Stadia games at full 4K, you’ll easily burn through a terabyte of data in less than three days. In the usage cap era, that’s a fairly obvious problem. Presumably, users would be looking at similar data usage for other upcoming streaming services.” [Source]
My unpopular opinion. Every cloud gaming platform service is charging monthly, which I don’t consider to be the best option for the cloud. What about paying only for the playing time, per minute, or an hour? Maybe AWS could implement this pricing model.
Stadia, After the E3 2019
Below, a nice infographic with the recap of Google Stadia after Stadia Connect 2019 and E3 2019.