Google Stadia, the cloud-based gaming platform was announced at the Games Developer Conference (GDC) in March 2019. The tech marks Google’s entry into gaming and putting them in direct competition with established players such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. It’s due to arrive in the US, Canada, UK and Europe later on this year.
In this blog post we’ll explore how Google Stadia came about, its similarities to software-as-a-service (SaaS) based products such as web3, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) and much more.
What is Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is a SaaS-based video games service that allows players to access games on devices of their choice; so long as they have an active internet connection. It’s designed to disrupt the existing video game market, to challenge the established in-house hardware requirement, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have dominated for so long.
Instead of having to buy a dedicated console, gamers will log into a Google Stadia app and have their library of games accessible and ready to go. All updates to the software will be handled by Google Stadia, eliminating the need for time-consuming software updates and patches that stop people from playing the games they want to immediately.
Google has said that in terms of performance, it will be able to surpass the existing standards set by their console counterparts.
Why is Google Stadia such a big deal?
It’s a big deal because it’s likely to disrupt gaming the same way Netflix disrupted content consumption earlier this decade, according to Pete Kinder, Wax Digital’s Chief Technology Officer and avid Twitch streamer.
He says: “Netflix was the de-facto game-changer for the entertainment industry. It facilitated a transformation in the way we consume video content and consigned organisations like Blockbuster to the annals of history.”
Pete added: “The key thing in the case of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms is that it leverages the power and elasticity of the cloud; offering organisations a cheap and cost-effective way of providing content directly to consumers.”
What did Google learn from B2B software sales?
Selling Google Stadia and SaaS-based software share many common principles according to Chris Smith, Sales Director at Wax Digital. He says: “It’s easy to draw comparisons between web3, the service we sell, and Google Stadia.
“Both are cloud-based services, that eliminate the need for on-premises hardware and software and are delivered over high-speed internet connections. Both are elastic and can expand and contract depending on customer demand.
Smith added “Also, because organisations like Google buy all their hardware in bulk, it drives down the cost of the solution – passing down the savings onto their consumers. We managed to achieve this too when we transitioned away from a licence-based subscription model.”
Why cloud-based gaming now?
Internet speed, infrastructure and latency are the three key drivers behind Google Stadia arriving now. According to Cable, the average internet speed anywhere in the world sits at 9.1mbps, which is around the minimum threshold to access Google Stadia.
In the top 50 broadband-enabled nations the average internet speed doesn’t drop below 13mbps, and this list contains nations with major consumer power such as the US, Germany, UK, Japan and others.
But away from conventional internet speed, 5G has been rolled out in South Korea, which trumps speeds generated by conventional broadband. Analysts say that 5G will be able to reach speeds of 100 gigabits per second, which is 100 times faster than its predecessor 4G and the conventional internet.
Crucially, 5G will eliminate issues with latency, which is a huge concern for gamers. Latency refers to the time it takes for your gaming device to send a signal to a server, to then receive the data back. Gaming relies on inputs being made quickly online, so low latency is essential to avoid games being unplayable.
With 5G set to be rolled out in the UK this year, it is possible that some players will see latency eliminated soon.
Does it have competitors?
Some experts are dubbing this period as the next ‘great console war’. Microsoft is testing its own platform called Project xCloud, a proposition like Google Stadia. It leverages Microsoft’s existing cloud-based setup called Azure, which like Google, has data centres ideally poised all over the world.
Amazon is rumoured to be creating a gaming service too, with numerous job openings appearing on their careers page for games development jobs, as well as network infrastructure professionals.
In addition, Sony already has its own video game streaming platform called PlayStation Now. It has had its share of issues – primarily around a lack of content – but with other big tech companies entering the gaming market, will they overhaul it to compete?
What pitfalls will Google Stadia suffer from?
It will suffer from the same challenge’s organisations such as Wax Digital, Microsoft, Amazon and others have had, when trying to sell their SaaS products according to Daniel Ball, Business Development Director at Wax Digital.
He says: “When thinking about buying web3 from Wax Digital, prospects generally are concerned about security, compatibility with their existing infrastructure, downtime, as well as a litany of other issues.
“Regarding the main three, Google and its stablemates will adopt similar strategies to quelling customer anxieties in the same way we do. They will be coordinating their marketing to communicate that Google Stadia is compatible on a wide array of devices, as well as demonstrating that the technology has a 99.9% uptime.
Ball adds: “Security is a more challenging proposition, given the well-documented mistrust of big tech organisations. In terms of our strategy, we leverage our ISO 27001 credentials, along with a clear data separation and security policy. Google would probably be looking at something similar to allay anxieties.”
But the issue of latency is something that won’t go away according to Pete Kinder: “Outside of the US, I think Google Stadia might struggle to make an impact. They lack the necessary data centres and pipes to reduce latency sufficiently here in the UK.”
And finally, will it catch on?
Our top team is split on whether Google Stadia is going to be a success or not. Daniel Ball thinks it’s a landmark moment for the video games sector: “I certainly think Google Stadia is an interesting proposition. It offers top-tier video game performance, without the expensive initial outlay and on a wide range of devices. It’ll make gaming more accessible and with Amazon and Microsoft rumoured to join the party, I think it’ll be like Netflix, where gaming shifts towards a service-orientated platform.”
Pete Kinder thinks we’re still a way off from it becoming mainstream yet: “For me, the biggest barrier to Google Stadia has to be the latency issue. Like I mentioned earlier, Google may have the infrastructure in the US, but to make it a globally successful platform, I don’t think Google Stadia quite manages it yet.
He adds: “Plus, many gamers will be reluctant to migrate away from their existing setups to something totally cloud-based because of a range of issues; the main one being security and data privacy. Tech giants have a lot to do convince gamers that it’s safe at this stage.”
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