Remember when we used to have to buy physical discs to game? It was not long ago that digital options did not exist. Taking a trip to the store to pick up the latest Grand Theft Auto or Medal of Honor was a necessary step before you could get your hands on them. Currently, our favorite games are, for many of us, just a quick download away on our favorite consoles or PC. It is now possible, with the soft launch of Google Stadia and the growing interest in cloud gaming, that the trend of how we get our games could evolve further. Before long, we may find ourselves at the point where we never buy consoles again.
Head in the Clouds
Google Stadia was officially announced in March of 2019 at the Game Developers Conference. Google promised quite a few attractive features for its cloud-based gaming service. Those features included 60 fps and 4K resolution, with an upgrade to 120 fps and 8K resolution in the future. Fortunate PC users have been achieving those specs for a while now (Bar the 8K option due to the technology not yet existing) However, they are a new commodity for those who pay to have a generational console. Cloud-based gaming also promises that you would no longer need to invest in a new, expensive console every five-to-ten years. The cherry on top for many gamers is that they could functionally take their favorite games everywhere by streaming those games on their tablets and phones. That is if their favorite games are supported by the platform.
Clearing the Air
Like many things that sound too good to be true, Stadia has qualities that sound like they tow the line between future and fantasy. However, it has clear issues as well. For example, only 41 games have been announced for Stadia. A few of those games are exciting, yet unreleased, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel’s Avengers. Yet, a staggering number of that arguably small library of announced games are those that have been out for several years. Three of the 41 games are the Crystal Dynamics/Eidos-Montréal Tomb Raider reboot series, the first of which released in 2013.
A small launch lineup does not necessarily spell disaster for the gaming service. The Nintendo Switch launched with only ten games available and it was still a smashing success with an ever-growing library of stellar games. Although with the Switch, at least you own those games. With Stadia, you will not own any of the games that you play. Similar to the way users of Netflix, Hulu, etc., do not own some of their favorite movies and television shows.
The shortlist of available games will be the least of many gamers’ worries when compared to internet requirements for the service. The Google Stadia support site says that you need an internet speed of at least 10 Mbps to achieve 720p resolution. It indicates that higher speeds will achieve 4K streaming, but does not specifically state what that speed should be. If you find yourself in an area that is lacking in adequate download speeds, such as many rural areas around the world, you better hope Microsoft and Sony keep pumping out consoles. Also, if you have a data cap on your competent internet, Stadia will destroy that cap in no time.
Therefore, the question remains; does Google Stadia mean the elimination of consoles in the future? The answer, despite all the current issues with the service, is probably. Whether we like it or not, technology is evolving. It is impossible to say for sure whether Google Stadia will dominate the cloud gaming market. However, it indicates an increased demand for newer, cheaper, and effortless means for gaming. In 10-15 years, will we still be downloading all of our games and looking forward to the next Xbox/PlayStation generation? It might be best to jump on the Stadia train now, because shortly we could be saying, “Remember when we used to have to buy consoles to game?”