Google revealed Stadia last week as their attempt at creating a gaming platform. I won’t get into the details about Stadia itself. You can read more about it here. What I want to tackle is the idea of streaming as the future of the games industry. More and more we are discarding physical media as our default entertainment. Movies, shows, and music have all embraced the streaming model to great success. Gaming has tried but to more mixed results. Games are more demanding of your internet connection than simply watching a movie or show. You better have an excellent connection or you’re in for a bad time. PS Now is PlayStation’s attempt at a streaming service that just doesn’t quite succeed. I’ve almost never had perfect picture quality and lag, lag, and more lag. This is the Achilles Heal of a streaming service for games. Google claims that this will not be a problem, but I’m not convinced.
One of the problems with the digital age of gaming is how little power the customer has over the games they purchased. It feels like publishers are trying control every part of how we experience the game. Sales of physical sales continues to decline as younger gamers do not care about owning physical media. You youngins are perfectly fine just playing you’re Fortnites on the iPhones. Publishers know this and are pushing forward for digital sales and streaming. This goes hand in hand with the trend of “live service” games. I love collecting games and other physical media but even I find myself buying more digital games than physical ones in recent years. But what happens when games just up and disappears from the store? Games like Deadpool and the Scott Pilgrim cannot be purchased anymore because the licenses ran out. Remember what Konami did to P.T.? Yeah, digital games are not safe from total erasure. The same could be said about games being streamed. What happens to the games if Stadia goes belly up? Those games are probably lost forever. Just because its Google doesn’t mean its guaranteed to be a success and get continued support. Google+ can attest to that.
Google Stadia sounds nice on paper, but I’m still very skeptical. Sure, its great that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey can run perfectly, assuming it wasn’t a fabrication. Google was demonstrating this in a completely controlled environment. Internet infrastructure in the Untied States is an embarrassment (certainly not the only thing embarrassing about America). The quality of internet speed varies significantly from town to town, state to state. If you live in an area with poor internet speed you’re fucked. Then there’s that whole net neutrality thing. Google might have the servers and infrastructure to make this happen, but does Comcast? Depending on Comcast (and other ISPs) to not fuck up the internet speed is like going outside in the rain without an umbrella and being confused as to why you’re all wet. I have little reason to have faith that internet speed will not be a major hindrance to Stadia’s performance. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Google Stadia is nice idea, but I wouldn’t put much stock in it yet. Physical consoles aren’t dead yet and its doubtful that Stadia will dig that grave. Remember when consoles were supposed to be dead? Spoilers; it didn’t happen. It seems popular in the tech field that everything is either the future or dead. I have never been an early adopter and Stadia won’t be changing that. There’s nothing wrong with taking a wait and see approach in this age of FOMO. Hopefully Stadia is successful and becomes a mainstay in the gaming space. Its unlikely that the streaming model will take hold in the coming years. Certainly not until America’s internet infrastructure improves. Also, fuck the FCC and FTC.