OK so about Google Stadia…

I was going to write a long-winded post about Stadia, then decided not to and whined about it on Twitter, after which a few people indicated that they were actually interested, so here goes but I’ll keep it brief.

If you’re a PC gamer today, Stadia in 2019 probably isn’t intended for you because:
1) You already have a PC that can play recent games
2) You already have a community to play with
3) Most of Stadia’s gee-whiz features probably won’t be ready at roll-out anyway.

So who IS Stadia 2019 for? Tinkerers, for sure. People who just like to try new things. Also possibly console gamers who’re getting stick of 30 FPS and can’t wait for November 2020 (when the new consoles come out) to address that. Mobile gamers who want to expand beyond the offerings currently available to them. And lastly, “Dads” who USED to be gamers but dropped away from it when life got busy and now they aren’t willing to invest in updated hardware but they might enjoy playing a game now and then. In fact I’ve seen Stadia referred to as Dadia.

Now I (being the resident weirdo) actually am interested in Stadia in 2019. I have the pesudo-4K 30 FPS experience on consoles, and I have a laptop that can run most recent games on High settings at 60 FPS but only at 1080P. I don’t really have a PC gaming community I’m attached to. So if Stadia really can get me 60 FPS 4K PC gaming, I’m willing to switch to it, at least for some titles. Mind you, I am not convinced that promise will be kept, but I will at least try it to see.

My “perfect” Stadia would run PC games with RTX graphics at 60 FPS/4K. I know Nividia is starting to deploy RTX in some of their GEForce Now data centers but I dunno if Google will be that cutting edge. But anyway, that’s why I am interested. If I had built a desktop PC (that I could upgrade) rather than buying a gaming laptop Stadia probably wouldn’t be nearly as appealing to me in 2019.

But what REALLY intrigues me is Stadia in 2021 or 2022. It’ll either be dead (“Hey remember that Stadia service that was a thing for 5 minutes?”) or I think it’ll be pretty cool. If game developers embrace it and build games that harness all that available power (the first of these should be Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die 3 which is using the power of Stadia to generates LOTS of orcs) the service could be really special. But even if that doesn’t happen, assuming Google keeps the hardware up to date we’ll be seeing instances where the PC gamers of 2019 are faced with the choice of either upgrading their hardware, or switching to Stadia; I think at the point the service could start gaining traction with PC gamers.

So those are my brief (!!?) thoughts.

Bonus other reasons I want Stadia:
1) My laptop hard drive is always full and I’m sick of juggling stuff. I connected an external drive but somehow my C: drive still keeps getting full
2) I like the idea of playing the same game on the TV, on a cheap laptop, or on my phone. I kind of do this already using Parsec but Stadia should make it better
3) I’m intrigued about things like YouTube integration

But there are concerns:
1) It’s PC gaming, but without mods. That’s a big loss
2) Will my ISP decide to start capping me if I use Stadia heavily?
3) If Google pulls the plug, my games go poof. I’ll probably stick primarily to F2P games and Ubisoft games since if you own a game on UPlay you can play it on Stadia

4 thoughts on “OK so about Google Stadia…

  1. If it was just Google moving this way on their own I would have been far more inclined to believe this a flash in the pan experiment, axed in a year or two.

    With XCloud from Microsoft and the reimagined Playstation Now coming hot on the heals — well, I guess that’s still a possible outcome. But I expect one or more of these players will carry the tech forward and we’ll see ‘something’ come out of this.

    Having said that, it isn’t for me. I guess I fall largely in the category of those with an existing desktop PC — but this is still true even though I am considering a near- to mid-term upgrade.

    I worry about the latency of the experience being based in NZ — even if they get data centres over in Aussie (which I think likely, although possibly not for the initial wave of releases) it will still be a noteably different experience to just playing local.

    Still — I’m intrigued at how it all plays out, and I think your idea of the target audience is right on.

    1. @Naithin — Yeah, there will definitely be people and places for whom this isn’t a good solution in the near term. Who knows what’ll happen in future. For me, at least, I’ve dabbled on GeForce Now and on another service that I recently helped test where I played Titanfall 2 quite nicely — I’m sure there was lag in there but it wasn’t enough that it impacted my enjoyment. But I AM pretty close to an Amazon AWS data center (and this service was using AWS.)

  2. Even though I’ve experienced it countless times, I’m still always blindsided by just how grindingly slow technological change is when you have to live through it. For social historians it seems these changes happen in the blink of an eye because cultural change moves in decades not centuries but ten years is a looooong time if you live it by the day.

    I was writing almost ten years ago about how tablets and phones would completely annihilate the laptop market and how big box “Personal Computers” would soon look as archaic and quaint as manual typewriters. The prevailing media narrative was that the last generation of consoles would be THE LAST generation of consoles.

    Now here we are at the beginning of the third decade of the 21st Century and nothing like that has really happened. I see more people using laptops than ever – people seem happy to carry a smartphone, a tablet, an eReader AND a laptop all at once. I predicted we would have one device for all those functions five years agao and no-one would dream of carrying more but apparently people have stronger arms than I thought.

    As for PCs, they seem to have transitioned into macho games consoles. Maybe there’s still some kind of home-user market but really it seems they’re just for gaming now. And they cost a ludicrous amount of money and need constant upgrading and people pay it because PCs are now the hi-fi of the day. I used to find hi-fi enthusiasts incomprehensible but now I see exactly the same process going on with PCs.

    This all *will* end. For the mass market, at least. There may always be a niche, enthusiast’s market. Never underestimate the hipster determination to stick with things the general public lost interest in years ago – look at vinyl – and now cassette, for god’s sake… In the end, though, the norm will move to something like Stadia, even if it’s not Stadia itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes another 15 or 20 years to transition fully, though.

    1. @Bhagpuss — Wait, people are starting to use cassette’s again!!? Holy heck, will it be 8-tracks next?

      I wonder what impact “5G” will have if/when it becomes ubiquitous. Imagine then you could just carry something like a chromebook with you. Nice and light and long battery life and you’re always connected thanks to 5G. You would play your games on it via Stadia, access your work stuff via Office 356, have all your photos stored on some cloud service, ebooks coming from the Kindle servers…

      Of course what will probably happen, at least in the US, is 5G will get billed by the megabyte or something and everyone will be afraid to use it.

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