This November, Google will finally launch Stadia, their new video game product. Stadia is much different than other video game systems (like Xbox and PlayStation) and has the potential to be a lot better.
Stadia isn’t a normal gaming system that you buy; it’s a service that you subscribe to and the games stream to your device. This isn’t streaming where you download a game and then play it, this is live streaming of your game frame-by-frame.
Here’s a bit more about how it works:
The advantage of this is that you don’t need a powerful device to play. The games on Stadia are powered by Google’s servers, and are more powerful than the latest Xbox and PlayStation combined. Google is doing the heavy lifting, so it’ll work well with most any device that you try it with. I beta tested this last year when it was “Project Stream” and I was amazed at how well it works. I even tried on years-old Chromebooks and it worked very well.
Not only does this mean that you don’t need to buy a $300 system to play on, but it also means that your games go with you. Play on your desktop computer at home, resume on your laptop later, do a bit more on your phone. Since the game lives in the cloud, your progress is always completely up to date.
This solves one of my biggest problems with games on PlayStation and Xbox — it takes too long to get started each time. If I can resume from my previous checkpoint in a matter of seconds (from any device), I’ll be much more likely to pick it up and play for a few minutes when I have time. This is similar to my new thoughts on reading books, so it’ll be interesting to see which one I pick up most often…
The cloud is the potential downside here. You need to have a fast, consistent connection to be able to play. There is no buffering going on here, as your games need to react to you in nearly real-time, which requires a lot of data going from you to Google and back in fractions of a second. It works well if you have a good connection, but if you don’t then you’re simply out of luck.
Needless to say, there is no offline mode. If you don’t have a good connection, you don’t play.
There are already over 30 games scheduled to come out when Stadia launches later this year. Many of them are games that you can already get on other systems, but some will be exclusive to Stadia (such as GYLT and Get Packed).
Stadia will cost $9.99/mo when it comes out, but most games will have to be purchased separately. No word on those prices, but they’re expected to be similar to existing video games prices. If you want to be able to play on day one, you’ll need to purchase the Stadia Founder’s Edition bundle. In the future, likely early 2020, there will be easier ways for new users to simply subscribe and play.
All in all, Stadia looks to be a very interesting move from Google. Other companies are looking to get into this market as well, but Google seems to have the best chance. The big key to this is low latecy so that games don’t lag, and Google has the best infrastructure (and therefore the best chance) to help make that happen.
Stadia is due to launch in November, and I’ll certainly share more thoughts once I’ve gotten my hands on it.