Not long ago, Google announced their online gaming service called Stadia. You would no longer need to buy a physical game and instead just stream into your home through a fast internet connection… But everyone is forgetting something… This isn’t anything new.
I am not saying that what Google is doing is not going to change the gaming landscape, what they’re doing is taking someone else’s idea and throwing lots of money into it too make it work. What’s more, I think that if any company was going to attempt it, then Google would probably be the most successful at it.
10 years ago back in 2009, at the same event that Google announced Stadia, the Game Developers Conference (GDC), a company called OnLive was previewing a new technology that would be able to stream games into your home. Not only onto a dedicated device, but also to other devices including your Windows or Mac computer, your tablet and your phone – It could also be on your TV through an Amazon Fire TV stick.
Towards the end of 2010, OnLive announced that with a monthly subscription fee, you could get access to a huge library of games that ranged from Triple-A titles to smaller indie titles. While it’s currently not known what the payment model of Stadia will be, people are predicting that it will be the Netflix for games. I even managed to get my hands on an OnLive kit when BT were doing tests of their network speeds to see if they could support services like this.
OnLive lived a pretty short life; it was a great idea that was dragged down by a CEO who was too concerned about his own ego rather than making a company that is successful. At one point, Nvidia came forward with some solutions but CEO, Steve Perlman, refused to negotiate hoping that his solution would pull through. Eventually after making massive losses, firing all employees and restarting the company, a large proportion of assets were bought by Sony and now make up the base of PlayStation now.
One of the biggest problems for Pearlman was that the hardware wasn’t powerful enough for the idea that he had. People’s network speeds were another issue that caused people not to play – Nowadays, virtualization and computer hardware has come a very long way to the point of being able to achieve far better results when streaming gameplay over a network; here’s a company called Shadow that can enable you to rent a gaming PC and stream it into your house with almost the same latency as if you were running it in your own home… But that’s just focusing on hiring hardware. Google’s plan, I would imagine, would be to just stream games into your home rather than renting a whole computer for use.
So 10 years on from the cluster fuck of OnLive, Google is taking a crack at a new form of cloud based gaming and I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be a positive one. Google has the money, the minds and the staff to be able to pull this off without a hitch, and what’s more the hardware is better than OnLive’s days meaning that we should be able to get gaming at 1440p at over a hundred frames a second, or even better, 4K at 60fps.
There are some pretty good features within Stadia as well. Not only is it a games streaming platform, but there’s a new games development team with in-house publishing which will presumably be making exclusives for the console. There’s also the hope of being able to link in with YouTube Livestreams – Have you ever been watching a streamer and really wanted to get into the game they’re playing and play with them? The idea is that you can join a qeue to be able to get into the same lobby as your streamer to have an equal chance of playing with them, rather than a first come first served dash to jump onto a server.
When it comes to it, the gaming landscape needs a kick; I think there will always be a place for dedicated hardware in homes to be able to play games – Some people just like to 100% know that they own their hardware and games… But for the more casual user, this could really rock the boat. Keep an eye out for more on Stadia soon.