Google recently announced the launch of its Stadia platform. A new streaming service requiring no more than a Chrome browser to deliver games seamlessly to players. With the global games market value rising to $134.9bn in 2018 and a growth of 10% in revenue, it will be interesting to see how this streaming service impacts the market as a whole.
But will it be a success? There is certainly interest: Over 50% of console gamers are interested in subscribing to Google Stadia. When delivering content over the internet, quality of experience is key. Whilst the platform will be accessible, gamers who have already tried the platform have reported issues with connectivity and quality. Could connectivity issues cause Stadia to stumble before it’s even started? And is there enough demand from gamers worldwide?
Seeing is Believing
Unsurprisingly, internet bandwidth could be a challenge. The gameplay will take place in a central server so the lag in multiplayer games will be eliminated. However, the video still needs to be rendered back on the viewing device and Google will have no control over how that appears to the player. At peak times, the bandwidth still contends at a local level, so users may suffer delays and poor experience whilst streaming the game.
Of course, one way around this is to not stream at 4K 60pfs, but at 720 25-30pfs. However, the quality will be diminished which might not be a problem for the casual gamer. However, for the hardcore gamer who invests in a fast gaming PC and a high refresh rate monitor, laggy, poor quality gameplay is not going to cut the mustard.
TV subscription services are already feeling the pinch, with Comcast losing 1.7% of its pay-TV customer and smaller operators losing up to 10%. Google may well have tapped into a significant growth market that is still embryonic and stolen a march on its competitors.
But with approximately 2.2 billion gamers in the world, and most of them already using PlayStation, Xbox or PCs for their games, will they switch to Stadia and ditch what they already use? It’s unlikely, especially as games consoles are a hefty investment!
Google has made no announcement to the price of the platform so it will be interesting to see the price point. Will Google charge access to the games, instantly and for a monthly subscription or a one-off and a monthly fee? This could make or break the platform’s popularity.
Time will tell
There is certainly a demand for a streaming platform for gaming. The success of Stadia will certainly be determined by the quality of experience, something that will remain beyond Google’s control. We already know that bad QoE costs TV subscription services subscribers and Stadia will be no exception. Many gamers will remain loyal to their consoles where they know they can get a high quality, immersive experience. Whether Stadia will be enough for them to become a streaming convert remains in question. It’s not quite Ready Player One, but it could be the closest we’ve got to it in the modern age.
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