Get your tin foil hats and pitchforks at the ready, as Google have announced their first foray into gaming with a digital only gaming platform that looks to usher in the end of traditional gaming consoles. This is what one might file under ambitious. The “Stadia” as Google have curiously christened it is a rather unique device in the sense that the only hardware you need is Google’s hideously mutated PlayStation/Xbox controller. Instead of downloading content to your external device, the games themselves operate on internal units at Google, allowing for quicker accessibility to the games you want to play. Featuring a Google Assistant and a YouTube sharing function, the Stadia can connect to your television, laptop or even your mobile phone for instant recreational play. Boasting support of 4K quality resolution and 60 fps, with a desire to double those figures in the future, the Stadia certainly means business. But can it really supplant the current status of gaming consoles and perhaps even your PC?
Google certainly sound confident that the Stadia is the natural successor, perhaps even usurper to console gaming but I’m a little dubious. For me there are as of now a number of variables that need to be addressed before I’d even vaguely consider the Stadia to be a viable alternative. First and perhaps most significantly is price, particularly the cost of subscription. Will everyone have access to the same content? Or will an inflated subsidy yield greater admission, perhaps a premium pass service for the more discerning? What games will actually be available on such an experimental device? Without content then it’s already a non starter. Also rather critically, how will the Stadia realistically deal with lag? Persistent latency could still be a huge problem, despite confident claims that such issues shouldn’t arise with the Stadia. With my listless Internet connection there’s no guarantee that the device will perform to an acceptable function. Even with high-speed broadband, how well it copes with latency is redundant if your Internet is down.
Google’s heavy association with YouTube also gives me pause, considering the latter’s obtuse fair use policies and vitriolic approach to anything that could be deemed offensive to a toddler. Especially as it’s a feature that’s presumably going to be such a prominent integration. It just seems less like gaming and more about leveraging YouTube to encourage the community to keep uploading and watching. A gaming platform that’s really designed for the YouTube community, rather than gamer’s. Another concern I have can be applied to all streaming services: the lack of ownership. Technically you’ve never truly owned a game, but rather purchased the rights to the licensing in a semi permanent capacity. Though its less likely that a game you purchased physically decades ago, that has now been censored due to licensing or some other form of prohibition will lead to lawyers breaking into your home and forcibly confiscating said content. But relying solely on a subscription for games, and possessing no personal storage for them is very discomforting to me.
Personally I’m not entirely convinced by, nor completely opposed to the Stadia. I’ve not seen enough to suggest this is as my statutory gaming console and that it will bury the next generation of consoles into deep, bottomless hole. I see this more as an accessory to a more prominent gaming console. More details are required before I’d even consider purchasing yet. It certainly has my curiosity though, if not my attention.
What do you think of the Stadia? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.