“Streaming is going to change the future of gaming, and it'll kill the consoles” - I am sure you've heard a lot of phrases like this during the past few months. Honestly, I didn't give into the whole game-streaming hype until last night, when Google unveiled Stadia, its ambitious gaming platform. As much as I like my consoles, I really think Stadia has the potential to pose a serious threat to them.
In case you haven't seen it till now, Stadia's website boldly claims that “the future of gaming is not a box.”
In all fairness, I think Google's presentation last night at GDC was convincing enough to support this claim. I say that because the idea of streaming a game online makes a lot of sense to me. Instead of throwing in all your money to buy dedicated gaming hardware, you can simply sign up for Stadia and play it on the device of your choice.
This means you could literally be playing Red Dead Redemption 2 (great game), on your TV, or heck, even a smartphone. So in this case, the TV or the smartphone and a controller is all you need to play such a demanding title. No downloads, no installations, and no “box”, as Google likes to call it. Google's data centre would do all the heavy work, and the internet will take care of the rest for you.
All that sounds impressive, but how much will Stadia cost?
Well, Google didn't have a lot to say about the pricing, but I am sure the service is not going to be free. In fact, I think it's going to be more expensive than any kind of streaming service that you use currently. I mean, c'mon, we're talking about a service that's going to help you play even the most demanding titles without the expensive hardware.
That being said, I still think it'll be less expensive than, say, a gaming console from the likes of Sony and Microsoft. Look, I don't know how the upcoming PS5 or the rumoured Xbox Two is going to cost. But considering the fact the current-gen consoles were around $400 - $500 at launch, I am assuming the next ones will be pricier. And that's just for the console, and there are a lot of expenses like the PSN subscription, Xbox Game pass, and more.
So if Google Stadia is priced right, which I think it will, we are looking at a serious competition here.
And then there's the whole ecosystem to consider as well. Imagine a situation where you're, say, watching a streamer on YouTube gaming or Twitch. With Stadia, you'd literally be able to tap a button and start playing that exact game without having to do much work. It's exactly the kind of seamless experience that I've always wanted.
Also, there's seamless accessibility, Google Assistant integration, co-op gameplay, Stadia's State Play features, etc. Look, I can keep going with all these features and make some educated guesses here. But being able to experience all the games on a smartphone or a tablet from the comfort of my couch is convincing enough for me.
Of course, all of this is going to take time, but streaming, particularly, Google's streaming service, has the potential to upend gaming consoles. If not, I can at least say that it has the potential to become one of the preferred ways of playing games for a lot of people.