During this year’s GDC, Google announced their new cloud gaming endeavour, Stadia. Last year, Google gave unknowing testers a taste of what Stadia is with a free copy of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Many of those who had a chance to check this out had great reviews of the service, but is this finally the time for full streaming gaming?
Many people’s first memory of streaming gaming services is Onlive. This service launched back in 2010 and it allowed gamers to play games through a device similar to a NVidia Shield’s form factor or their own pc for 14.95 a month. It was met with a lot of excitement at the time and had decent support but it could not maintain traction. The issue that Onlive had back in 2010 is the same one that many have had since then. Latency! The time between the user pressing a button and something happening on screen. It can really make a player feel disconnected, especially depending on the type of game. Another big factor in Latency was a person’s internet connection speed. The U.S. was not at a point where enough people had access to the appropriate connection speeds.
Fast forwarding into the future a little bit, Onlive is now discontinued and Sony has purchased many important pieces of their technology. With those assets, Sony has started their own service, Playstation Now. Sony had issues with latency as well when it first hit beta on the Playstation 3 but a lot has changed since then. You may not be able to play games that require pin point accuracy and quick response time but single player experiences seem to be working pretty well.
Stadia has an advantage by being a product by Google. That, paired with the leaps in technological advancements in recent years gives the product a head start. Google has been offering various cloud supported technologies and services for years and have established thousands of data centers around the world so the backbone is in place. Internet speeds around the country are beginning to get faster and faster which is a benefit for all cloud services.
If you look at the push that Google is making into the gaming scene, it shows their confidence in the cloud technology. Sony has been working on getting everything working smoothly for years and Microsoft is entering with Project XCloud. With so many players entering the game around the same time, there is the possibility of seeing a lot more success this time around. The competition between services will be similar to that of the consoles. The competition will for the companies and services to evolve. Stadia has now many the cloud gaming race a lot more interesting.