A Look At What Google’s 4K 60FPS Stadia Gaming Platform Means For The Market
Stephan Jukic – June 17, 2019
Heavyweights Sony and Microsoft may have dominated the console gaming landscape for years through their respective PlayStation and Xbox devices but now tech behemoth Google is entering the same arena as a heavy hitting competitor with plenty of its own punch.
The company’s new Google Stadia could effectively be the first ever serious challenger to the domination of the gaming world’s online architecture via Sony and Microsoft with many of the same features as these brand’s platforms and some unique twists of its own.
While both the Microsoft and Sony platforms support online services as a major source of revenue via monthly fees, Sony’s PlayStation Network takes things even further by also being slated for a soon-to-arrive streaming platform that will be created in partnership with Microsoft. Thus not only are these two competitors the gaming market’s still dominant players, they’re now also starting to team up on projects in this space.
Google’s Stadia might be a serious reason why: The upcoming combo from Google cuts right through the roundabouts that Sony and Microsoft first went through and will go straight to paid monthly streaming gameplay services for $9.99 per month. These will be made available as of November 2019 for users who buy the “limited edition” Stadia platform hardware, which will include everything needed for serious streamed gaming and retail for a price of $129.99 (plus the above-mentioned monthly user fee). Users can also buy standalone Stadia controllers for $69.99.
Users who sign up for this initial offer and buy the hardware at the above price will get access to Google’s best possible streaming speeds (subject of course to any users own home internet connectivity restrictions) and priority access to choosing their own “Stadia Name”.
The above $129.99 “investment” buys you a limited-edition controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a three month subscription bonus and access to the game “Destiny 2” with a one-year subscription included. Users who already play “Destiny 2” on their Xbox will also be able to transfer their guardian from the former to their Stadia account.
The Stadia platform itself is quite an interesting connection of devices rig based on what’s been announced. Instead of a single full blown console like the Xbox One X or the PS4 Ultra, what you get is a connected assortment of devices that include the above-mentioned controller and which run off the Chromecast Ultra that is the core of the platform. These can be used with any (preferably 4K UHD HDR) smart TV or PC with the Chrome browser supports controllers via Bluetooth and USB while also offering mouse/keyboard compatibility.
Stadia will offer several gaming titles at launch. For now these include the already-mentioned “Destiny 2”, “Naldur’s Gate 3”, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and The Division 2 from Ubisoft; four titles from Bethesda that consist of “Doom”, “Doom Eternal”, “The Elder Scrolls Online”,” Wolfenstein: Youngblood”, and four Square Enix games: the Tomb Raider trilogy and “Final Fantasy XV”.
Also coming are Borderlands 3 (2K) and the Stranger Things-esque GYLT (Tequila Works).
The above games will for now only be available through Stadia’s monthly subscription service but Google has stated that it will add a Stadia Base tier for users who just want to buy standalone games which interest them.
Given the enormous and highly talented talent pool that Google has at its disposal, and aside from this a huge developer community of people who might release games for the platform, we’re expecting plenty more to follow these games for the Stadia. The device will let users stream all their games in real time, in keeping with the running trend in the overall gaming landscape. Microsoft’s own Xbox 2 is going in the same direction and will also have plenty of live, real-time streaming built into it.
As for the Stadia’s specs, they include everything that the Chromecast Ultra already offers in terms of storage and connectivity and as a result of the Ultra’s 4K HDR compatibility, users who buy into Stadia can use the system for lag-free HDR gaming at up to 60fps and 4K HDR video capacity at the same speed. Pulling this off would require access to an internet connectivity speed of at least 25-30 consistent Mbps and users who can only get less than that will be stuck with 1080p or 720p gaming at 60fps. This might not be a bad thing for those players though since the 4K connection to the Stadia’s streamed games will mean massive bandwidth use from their ISP, with just a couple hours of gameplay at the Stadia’s maximum resolution costing 1 TB of data transmission.
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The most interesting aspect of the Stadia platform from Google is that it doesn’t conform to the standard idea of a game system with a distinct console. Building such a device is how Microsoft and Sony ended up carving up their gigantic and usually competing shares of the non-PC gaming landscape but Google, a company that has never been exceptionally strong on hardware, has instead focused on joining together existing light hardware already available for movie and TV app streaming and adding to it a shiny new streaming service for games at their best currently possible resolutions. Where Google excels is in massively improving and delivering new spins on online services of all kinds (including more video than anyone else via YouTube). They’ve also pulled this off with email, storage, streamed media and so many other things virtually everyone uses today. And for this reason, we suspect they’ll excel at doing the same for gaming too.
Just as importantly, what the company is capable of showing to the consumer tech world is that it’s possible to enter the streaming major games market without a huge investment in the design and construction of specific, highly specialized gaming hardware like that found in Xbox and PS4 rigs. This could mean a near future in which many more brands enter the same space to create a much more diverse and opened up streamed gaming landscape.