Google Stadia Everything we know
WHAT IS GOOGLE STADIA?
Google finally announced that its much-anticipated landing into the game industry is called Stadia, evidently inspired by the notion of a collective appreciation of gaming skill. The pitch is that Google’s technology advantage will bring players, developers, streamers, and viewers closer together, manifested in millions of connections to a global network of data centers.
What this means in practice is that I can click on any link and be playing any video game no
matter how visually intense — within five seconds. I can play on my crappy old laptop, my clunky old PC, my cellphone, my tablet, or my internet-connected TV. I can jump between multiple devices, where my progress will always be saved. There is no hardware, except an optional controller that connects directly to the servers (rather than any particular device) over wi-fi.
When Google tested its service late last year, under the moniker Project Stream and using Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the company worked within an ideal framework of 25 megabits per second, for 1080p / 60 frames per second streaming. “In fact, we only used about 20 megabits per second,” said Google VP Phil Harrison, a longtime industry veteran, in an interview with Polygon. Improving algorithms mean that the company plans to launch with a target of 4K / 60 frames per second in about 30 megabits per second.
Google has dodged the issue of what this will mean in terms of overall usage, as well as with data-caps, arguing that internet service providers will increase caps to accommodate consumers behavior.
The lowest resolution Stadia will go to is 720p. Harrison also said that Google is working on “very clever technology” that will protect game progress in the event of sudden internet droppage.
WHEN IS STADIA LAUNCHING — AND WHERE?
The next announcements about Stadia will come out around E3 time. Although Google has not yet confirmed its E3 plans, Harrison said more details will come out in June. Stadia will launch in 2019 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and “most” of Europe.
WHAT WILL STADIA COST? WILL IT BE A SUBSCRIPTION?
Google refuses to discuss its pricing plan. Conversations are ongoing with publishers and other partners.
On the one hand, Google may go a conservative route, and price its service much like a traditional Steam-like online retailer. Or it could shoot for the moon with a Netflix-like monthly subscription fee, which would tally with its YouTube TV strategy. However, this could be extremely costly, and might not be welcomed by games companies. It’s also unclear how such a model would work in terms of revenue splits. Some kind of amalgam of subscriptions for certain games, and payment for others is probable.
Either way, Google will have to invest heavily in infrastructure and content in order to crack gaming. “It is a public record that in 2019, Google will be spending $13 billion in infrastructure and capital expenditure,” said Harrison. “So this is a very significant investment for the company.”