Google’s entry to the burgeoning cloud gaming sector with Google Stadia is exciting for any gamer. Over a month after it was announced at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019, my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to better understand the concept of cloud gaming, its closely related game streaming services, and its revenue models.
Cloud gaming is definitely not something new. The growth of ‘on-demand’ services is there, and hence it is unsurprising to see demand for the next Spotify and Netflix for gaming.
It also has phenomenal potential. Services like cloud gaming can literally reach the next billion gamers. Barriers to hardware will no longer be an issue to experience gaming as how developers would have wanted it. But as far as hardware requirements go, they will still require a pretty decent internet connection though.
Success of a cloud gaming platform will rely on availability of content, robustness of infrastructure and pricing model.
Let’s discuss the issue of content in this article. If you examine the bigger players today, notice that there has been no single way of securing content with game developers. This doesn’t come as a surprise if we see how these players fit into the gaming ecosystem.
Given their close ties with developers, companies like Sony and Microsoft should not have as much of an issue securing content.
These are companies that not only produce consoles but also develops and publishes video games. They each have their Playstation Now and Xbox Game Pass on-demand game streaming services. Microsoft is also working on xCloud, a platform that will more closely mimic Stadia’s capabilities.
Developers have also created their own subscription-based services, such as Electronic Art’s EA Access.
This cannibalizes existing revenue for console producers. Hence, this could explain the inertia from Sony who is only getting on board in July this year. Microsoft participated in the program since 2014.
NVIDIA, a company most famous for its performance graphics card, already has its game streaming service GeForce NOW live since 2015. They offer a mixed bag of on-demand games and buy-and-play titles (typically AAA titles sold at retail pricing). Here, the relationship with developers is relatively further, which could explain the different delivery models.
Even digital distribution platforms want a piece of the pie.
Valve’s Steam Link is being expanded to allow streaming of Steam games from your computer to anywhere in the world. This will be done through Steam Link hardware or the Steam Link app.
Coming back to Google, Stadia famously demonstrated its tie-up with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in GDC 2019. Because Google has never really been huge in non-mobile gaming, I feel that they have their work cut out the most in content. Google recognizes this and has already created its own game studio for Stadia-exclusive titles.
However, outside of gaming partnerships, Google has one very important edge worth mentioning. That edge is YouTube. 50 billion hours were spent on watching gaming content in 2018.
There is undoubtedly going to be unprecedented synergy between YouTube Gaming content creators and their audiences with the entry of Stadia.
Like as in all innovation in gaming, it is always exciting to watch how different business strategies unfold. On-demand gaming is a piece of the puzzle that all these players are figuring out. Each was dealt with different hands from a different deck. But slowly and surely, I think we are starting to see a greater convergence of ideas and execution.
Featured photo by 9to5google.com
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Use any cloud gaming service currently? How do you think Stadia will affect the gaming industry? Comment below to share your thoughts.