According to an announcement from Google Stadia VP Phil Harrison, the platform is winding down its development studious in the company’s second year. All is not lost for Stadia, however, as Harrison has reiterated their dedication to aiding publishers and developers in bringing external games to the service. Spectators are so far unsure about this move, where Google’s statements and their prior behaviors could be at odds.
Stadia’s Promise and Success
While far from the first game streaming service, Stadia did make a mark as one of the largest and most successful. By leveraging Google’s immense infrastructure, combined with its advertising budget, Stadia was hotly anticipated and has performed at the top tier among its contemporaries. It also has the benefit of not being bound to particular consoles like PSNow and Project xCloud are, giving a far wider potential library of games.
Essentially, the idea of Stadia is much like that of older Flash games, or more contemporary online casino gaming. For an example of this, consider an extensive list of NZ casinos today. These casinos draw people in through bonus offers and an immense library of games, but just as important is the ability to play from anywhere. These require next to no loading and can be streamed to practically any location accessible with a modern mobile device. This is the same idea as pursued by Stadia, only targeting another part of the market.
Though not an international game-changing smash, Stadia remains well regarded within its sphere. Unlike older streaming services, it arrived at a time where devices and internet connections have been fast enough to handle its demands, giving a strong impression to newcomers and industry professionals. Some games, such as the recent Cyberpunk 2077, even performed far better on Stadia than they did on last-gen consoles.
The Google Concern
As much good as Google has done with their technologies, they also have a reputation as a software killer. Whether regarding their own products or systems bought from other companies, Google’s legacy of dropping support before doing their due diligence is legendary. Given this latest move in dropping their internal development studios, there are concerns that Google might be taking the same approach for Stadia.
As a technology, game streaming is one of the most demanding in terms of modern internet usage. Unlike video streaming, which is simple by comparison, game streaming requires much more bandwidth to achieve playable framerates and, just as importantly, low latency. Though bandwidth can easily be addressed by the growing adoption of ultra-fast internet, latency is not so simple. Bound as it is by geographical proximity, latency is only really addressable by Google adding more Stadia servers, an expensive but achievable task as the service grows.
Looking forward, Google has its work cut out for it. At the very least, general improvements of bandwidth should make the technology more viable. Coupled with more servers, and the reliability of Stadia in realistic user-cases should also improve. The only question is whether the service will prove profitable enough to last until these changes occur. If not, then we might be adding another project to Google’s growing digital graveyard.