Google Stadia heralds gaming revolution

The future of gaming? Google’s Stadia is introduced using Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Netflix has transformed TV and film. Spotify has revolutionised music. Now Google aims to do the same for gaming with a new streaming service, Stadia. But too much choice is stressing us out.

First there were large, clunky arcade games like Pac-Man. Then smaller game consoles, for televisions at home. Hand-held consoles made gaming portable.

Now, Google is hoping to start a new era of gaming — one which is based on streaming, just like Netflix and Spotify.

It has announced a new gaming service, Stadia, to be released later this year.

The idea is that gamers will no longer need to buy expensive hardware, like PlayStations. All they need is a WiFi connection, and they can instantly play games on their laptop, tablet, mobile or TV.

There is no downloading necessary. This is because all of the heavy lifting is done by the company’s own vast data centres.

Google has not yet said how users will pay for Stadia. It may ask for a flat monthly fee, like Netflix or Spotify. Or you may have to pay for individual games, as with Amazon Prime.

Is it a good idea? It could certainly make gaming cheaper and easier, if you have a strong enough internet connection.

As for the gaming companies, the challenge will be avoiding “what has happened to the music industry,” wrote the BBC’s technology reporter Dave Lee. “Streaming has meant royalty payments have been squeezed so dramatically, even elite musicians can struggle to make a living through record sales.”

Fair game

Can Google change the gaming industry? A lot will depend on the games available, and the internet speeds needed to play them. But say it works well — will a streaming service be good for gamers? What about the people who make games?

And has streaming been good for culture in general? It is convenient to have everything available on demand. But what about the excitement of buying a new album or going to the cinema? Do we live in a golden age of TV and music? Or is there such a thing as too much choice?

You Decide

  1. Could Stadia overtake traditional gaming consoles like Nintendo, PlayStation or Xbox?

Activities

  1. Try designing a plan for your own video game! Think about the game’s story, characters and the world in which it takes place.

Some People Say...

“We want Google to be the third half of your brain.”

Google co-founder Sergey Brin

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Google has been working on this project for several years. We know that Doom Eternal will be available on Stadia, and it streamed Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey during testing phases.
What do we not know?
When Stadia will be released, or how it will make money. We also do not know which other games will be made available, although Google has suggested it is going after big names.

Word Watch

Streaming
Content (such as music or video) which is delivered via the internet, rather than downloading it first — or getting it off a CD, DVD, or video tape.
Data centres
Buildings which house computer systems and data storage. Google has built data centres all around the world.
Squeezed
According to the latest research by Digital Music News, Spotify pays $0.00437 per stream. Lee specifies that it is not stars who are “worst hit” by this, “but the trumpet players to the stars, and so on.”

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