Google Stadia: Gaming in the cloud?
Google Stadia is new service provided by Google. Let’s watch the trailer, shall we?
What is Stadia?
Do you know what Google Stadia is? Because I don’t. The trailer told me nothing about the product, no goals, no features, not even what I have to expect. At first I thought it might be a newer version of Youtube Gaming, but alas: It’s a streaming service for video games. Not for people who stream video games.
In theory Google is able to stream 4K 60 fps from their datacenter to your TV, smartphone or whatever device you are going to use. As far as I know, you will have to use Google Chrome to stream games, which runs on most devices that are out there. The hardware is fine, with a 2.7GHy x86 CPU and 16GB RAM. The graphics card can push 10.7 teraflops, but that’s about all we know right now. With that information we will run into a couple of problems when it comes to the service.
What’s the price?
We don’t know. We also don’t know if we have to buy the games, use existing accounts or if the games are rentals included in the service. A decent PC to run most games in 1080p 60fps will cost you less than 800€ and you can use it for 2-4 years. So the service has to be cheap, otherwise a new PC or waiting for the new consoles would be cheaper. Also game prices are not that important, because prices drop really fast, but keep that in mind if you want to play the newest games release date. (But then: Why don’t you have a console or a high end gaming system already?)
Basically every device that can run Google Chrome. I wasn’t able to find anything concrete, but a Chromebook should do the job. Now, the issue will be the internet connection! The lowest I saw was 15Mbps, which is still a lot for huge parts in Germany and the USA. 15Mpbs will also only give you approximately 720p 30fps. Digital Foundry did some test on that.
There are a lot of unanswered questions, but for now: I have no use for it. I don’t see how this will help to satisfy my gaming needs. It would be cool to use this in a hotel, when I’m at a customer site and what to get my gaming fix during the evening. But with 15Mbps minimum, that will not be possible. There are still hotels out there, that only give you 1Mbps. One. You need fifteen.
There were, are and will be other gaming services out there, OnLive (dead), PlayStation Live (presumably dead), the Microsoft xCloud game streaming service (coming), Shadow (alive), something Amazon works on (maybe coming) and Steam with an updated Steam Link version (alive). Google has to nail that, otherwise it will fail like Google Glass and other products. Unfortunately Google has a track record of killing off products because Google doesn’t know how to use them or make them profitable. If there is a trial, I will try it. But I will not bet on Stadia alone.