Immediately the gaming community was divided, with many showing concern that Google would abandon this project as they have with many others before. Other potential problems being aired by the community surround the promise of seamless, 4K resolution with consistent 60fps.
Sure, it has so far been demonstrated to be capable of this, while under no pressure from large player numbers and with only a handful of titles available.
If they can pull it off, it will undoubtedly be the biggest leap in gaming since the release of the first online multiplayer or VR creation. But, Google's audience has good cause to hold onto their reservations.
For some of us, Google Stadia has the potential to tear down a long-standing wall that divides PC and Console players by creating a system in which all games can be accessed, on just about any screen. One day.
For as long as I can remember, my main avenue of gaming has been via consoles and handhelds. My first device outside of the family computer, where games lived in floppy disks, was a Nintendo Gameboy.
Let's side-track for a moment before coming right back to this post, Nintendo's Gameboy was the source of thousands of hours of entertainment, but boy was it a seemingly counter-intuitive device to release.
The resolution was poor, even for the time, it was devoid of color, and operated on AA batteries.
Meanwhile, NES players were enjoying all the Technicolor that Nintendo had to offer. So it seems that the novelty of a handheld console was at the expense of other luxuries we now see as a necessity.
Alright, back on track.
Over the course of my life, I have jumped from one console to the next, at times having the opportunity to get my hands on a gaming laptop or a tower. But always found the convenience of a console to be too enticing.
Times have changed, however, and throughout the last decade, PC gaming has taken huge leaps which have kept the capabilities far in front of those found in your standard PS4 or Xbox One.
We do have the means of upgrading components or the entire console as a way of getting clearer resolution and higher frame rates, yet the fact remains that not all games are suitable for all methods of consumption. This leads to a clear divide between PC, Console, and handheld communities.
Cross-platform capability partially bridged the gap, for the first time allowing these various communities to play together and enjoy the games they love, together. But that bridge isn't stable and often leads to issues with latency, out if sync updates and so on.
Add to that the situation where one of these entertainment superstars holds a monopoly over which games are allowed on each device.
This all paints a sad picture, where we are closer than ever before to a world where video games are just that, and the device or system used to play no longer matters, but ultimately this doesn't occur because of money. Revenue is the life force of the major corporations running the gaming world, and as such it makes the ideal almost unattainable.
Apart from hurdles that Google's team will face with the acquisition of titles, there will also be a large amount of dependency on developers creating games that are optimized for Stadia.
So, this could mean that a wall will once again go up, separating console and PC players with their own exclusive titles. Or, it could apply just the right amount of pressure to alter the future of gaming, and game development entirely.
Let’s take a quick look at what is being promised, and the effects that could ripple through the industry.
Stadia is completely cloud-based which means no need for any additional hardware. You can opt to use your current controller by linking it with Stadia, however, to get the most out of the service Google has noted their patented controller will be required. Pretty standard, but I wish they had something a little less plain on offer. With deep roots in the tech industry, it seems like the Stadia controller is not an area that was truly invested in during development.
Google mentioned that the Stadia controller has built-in Wifi, Google Assistant, and ultimately provides more options for streaming, connecting to games and running Stadia in general. But the design looks cheap, at first glance it could’ve been mistaken for a Mad Catz controller of old.
Maybe it was just my own desire to see another revolutionary breakthrough in controller technology, but I feel like Google was certainly capable of releasing something unique looking, as well as unique in performance and features.
On top of the streaming integration that players will be able to utilize, viewers of these Youtube based Stadia accounts will be able to jump right into the game, directly from the video. The possibilities for MMORPG and MOBA format games are incredible, and the name Stadia itself hints at the vision Google has for it’s newly announced service.
Stadia is the plural of Stadium, and when you ponder that fact in conjunction with the ability to seamlessly go from watching a game to taking part in it, you start to see a future for gaming that is incredibly immersive and flexible. Now, add the promise of eventual 8K, 120FPS, with VR support. Wow.
For the time being, it’s likely that the main source of games being released on Stadia will be ported from other platforms. This theory is based around Google’s procurement of Jade Raymond as the head of Stadia Games & Entertainment, a branch of Google that will work on adding third-party games to its library. At the same time, the branch of Google will develop exclusive titles direct for Stadia.
Fingers crossed that Google can deliver on these promises, it would ultimately lead to more games available to more people, with more options as to how we can play.