Google breaks new ground with Stadia

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The infamous grand altering of the way we play games has once again been challenged, this time by the technology giant Google. The company recently announced at the Game Developers Conference that it will throw its hat into the proverbial games industry ring with its new streaming service Stadia, a pseudo-gaming console. While Google promises many rather unfathomable features, being an optimistic gamer, this idea looks to completely alter the landscape of games.

Announced in the form of the traditional Apple press conference, many of Google’s higher-ups proudly revealed its new “console” Stadia, which is stated to rival the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in terms of processing power. Considering the service functions primarily on one’s own laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone, this seems fairly plausible.

Complete with an initially unappealing name, Google’s Stadia will essentially finally introduce gamers to a successful version of games as a service, mirroring the overwhelming efforts of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu to bring virtually any game to players’ fingertips with a simple click of a link. During the reveal, it was shown that players will be able to go straight to playing a supported Stadia game after watching its trailer on YouTube, therefore introducing “one place for all the ways we play.”

On paper, this concept sounds pretty incredible, if not just a tiny bit impossible. Games as a service have been unsuccessfully attempted before by much smaller companies, but Microsoft and Sony have both launched their own successful versions of this service through their Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now services respectively. However, through Stadia, players will no longer have to download games or pay for them separately, it seems. Rather, these games, no matter how graphically demanding they may be, will launch within five seconds inside of any device with Google Chrome.

Glancing over utterings of megaflops and even the questionable wi-fi controller, the reveal felt like a major game-changer when stacked up against mega-hyped announcements of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, fond memories that will forever be implanted into the minds of gamers. However, the sheer amount of questions left dangling over a fire of tears and failure keep me cautiously optimistic.

For one, there’s been no word on how one will be able to access these games, though the overall conjecture is that Stadia will be a monthly-paid service considering its lack of hardware. Furthermore, the price of Stadia has been a common question in several interviews with Stadia’s developers, and it’s remained a tightlipped secret for now. Even if the cacophony of problems hadn’t begun rearing their heads, the issue of actually getting companies and developers on board with the project seems more likely than not, looking at Wii U’s disastrous lineup of games because of its lack of third-party support.

Poking around various spaces on the web, nearly every entertainment source had something to say about Google’s bold new venture.

“Google has some significant hurdles to overcome if it wants to dominate gaming for the next generation, though,” Verge writer Tom Warren said. “The biggest among them is getting games on its platform…Google even unveiled its own Stadia Games and Entertainment studio to create Stadia-exclusive titles, but it didn’t mention any details on what games it will be building.”

“Everything about Stadia upends the way games are traditionally bought and sold,” Polygon writer Patricia Hernandez said. “We don’t know anything about the economics of Stadia right now. We just know that the streaming service will release later this year.”

Wondering if Stadia will “matter” in the long run feels like a moot point, however. In a more pressing sense, of course Stadia will matter, whether it’s ultimately a failure or not. Clearly acknowledging the mass amount of money to be gained in the games industry, the company will no doubt put its copious amounts of money behind this project, at the very least creating a program that millions of gamers will be eager to try out.

All eyes will be on Google and any games they’ll announce in the coming months. Here’s hoping Stadia will be more than just a pipedream. For now, we can all enjoy the incredible Stadia announcement video packed with promises and nostalgia.

photo courtesy Google