Google presented, on the night of March 20 to 21, Stadia, its future console-less video game platform at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. A promise of revolution in the sector, but which however left perplexed. The platform will indeed be accessible via almost any connected device: smartphone, computer, tablet or television. It is not a box, it is a service,” said the president of the video game division of Google, Phil Harrison, confirming that the group intended to make Stadia the “Netflix of video games”. Thus, a part of a video game started on a smartphone can continue on a computer, like a Netflix series. You can also join a game broadcast live on Youtube. “Imagine watching an Assassin’s Creed game on YouTube, you see a ‘Play’ button appearing, and in just five seconds, with no downloads, Stadia gives you instant access to the game. We are closing the gap between wanting to play a game and play it, ”explained Phil Harrison. By sending your game to a friend registered on Stadia, they can continue your game as well. You will also be able to play in split screen.
How Stadia could spell the end of console video games
On the hardware side, no need for a console but a controller connected to the wifi service, with a button capable of contacting Google support, was presented. A specificity that has provoked the fear of investors in the video game sector. The public could definitely turn away from consoles. Result, the day after the presentation of Stadia, shares of Nintendo and Sony plunged, respectively by 3.20% and 3.37%, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange . The main players in video games (Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) have many reasons to fear Google. The Californian group created its video game division, Stadia Games & Entertainment, headed by Jade Raymond, former Ubisoft and EA. The role of this department will be to concoct home video games, in order to convince players to join Stadia rather than another platform.
A welcome despite everything perplexed by Stadia.
Doom Eternal, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Rime.
Behind the scenes, however, Google would multiply the acquisitions of exclusive games. The group has also not communicated on the access price, nor on Stadia’s economic model . Another concern, Stadia will require you to have a very high speed connection. So no part of a video game in public transport or on the plane, unless the platform provides for temporary storage. On the other hand, observers fear that Google’s virtual monopoly will extend to video games, a monopoly already visible in advertising and data collection via its search engine. Stadia’s environmental impact is also questioned, as the platform relies solely on data centers.
Microsoft’s response to Stadia
Impressed by Stadia, as revealed in an internal email that was able to consult the Thurrott site , Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Xbox manager, promised heavy lifting. Next June, at E3, one of the biggest video games trade shows, Microsoft will present its Project xCloud project, its own streaming gaming platform. Towards a new war of giants?
Video game: What is Stadia, Google’s new platform?
Google is commissioning its Stadia video game platform on the cloud this Tuesday, which promises its subscribers the possibility of playing from any screen, without a console or a high-performance computer, a market very little occupied so far. Players can now subscribe to “Stadia pro ” for $ 9.99 (or euros) per month. This price includes the use of remote technology, including 4K and 5.1 sound – very high definition image and sound, two free games (including the Destiny 2 franchise, from Bungie) and access to the rest of the catalog of paid games, 22 titles immediately available, and around 30 by the end of the year. The tech giant has already sold out its $ 129 pre-order offer – including a three-month subscription, a Chromecast Ultra device to connect to a screen, and a controller . Stadia consists above all of a virtual computer, rented remotely . Unlike streaming platforms like Netflix , its economic model will therefore first be based on the sale of games by the piece, with a commission, as do other services (Xbox Live, Steam). The prices of titles generally start around 50 euros.
A free subscription should also be offered in 2020, with less efficient technical characteristics (HD image, stereo sound, etc.).
Google promises, in the long term, to move from one screen to another without friction, by starting a game on a computer and continuing it on a smartphone afterwards , for example. Players will nevertheless need a very good internet connection and certain equipment, such as the Chromecast decoder to play on their connected TV or a Google smartphone (Pixel 3 or 4), the only phone capable of receiving the signal from Google’s servers. Firstly. And even on Pixel, you will need to be connected to Wifi. Other options will not be available at launch, such as the ability to access Stadia through YouTube. To fill these gaps, the group bet on very popular franchises, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Just Dance 2020 from Ubisoft, Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games), three titles of Tomb Raider (Square Enix) or Football Manager 2020. (Sega) and Farming Simulator 19 (Giants Software), which must be added by the end of the year. There will also be some original designs for Stadia, like Gylt. Other video game services on the cloud have already existed for several years, such as French Shadow (Blade) in France or Sony’s PlayStation Now . But cloud gaming has never really taken off until now. Microsoft is preparing its own service, the xCloud, which is due out in 2020. ” It is the most dangerous potential rival for Google, ” said Ted Pollak, specialist in the video game market at Jon Peddie Research.
The best gaming experience with Stadia is when you use the right controller. The one presented by Google connects via the Internet directly to Google’s servers , thanks to which we have to get rid of delays while playing (again as long as we have an appropriate internet connection). As a result, the task of the end device we use (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) will only be showing the image from the game and playing the sound. The controller itself has built-in support for the Google Assistant and a button for capturing video and audio from the game and saving the collected material in the form of a YouTube video.