Google Stadia could change the way we use our mobile devices for gaming

By Joe Robinson 20 Mar 2019 1

It’s perhaps a testament to how the worlds of mobile gaming and traditional gaming are starting to converge that we find ourselves covering a second mainstream GDC 2019 announcement in a 24-hour period. Google have been teasing some kind of big gaming announcement for a few weeks now, and last night they revealed what they’ve been working on – Google Stadia.

The nuts and bolts is that Google want to use their tech – honed over decades of internet shenanigans – to power a cloud-streaming game platform. They’ve essentially declared war on traditional hardware formats; mainly consoles, but high-end PCs will come into the crosshairs as well. I think the thing that summed up their ‘intent’ for me was an analogy they used for describing how link sharing works.

google stadia all

You get sent a link, you click on it, the page loads quickly and seamlessly. They essentially want that to be true for games in general. YouTube videos will have game links on them now, or perhaps a friend or a streamer will share a game link via social media or chat. You click on it, and instantly you’re playing that game without loading, installing or buffering. They boast they’ll be able to do it at the highest quality as well (dependent on Wi-Fi infrastructure).

If you’re passionate about gaming and you’ve got some time to spare (maybe on a lunch break or later this evening), I would recommend giving the full stream a watch – it’s a pretty fascinating vision, at the very least:

If you just want a recap or highlights though, here’s the short version:

But what does this mean for mobile gaming?

It’s a complicated proposition – I think the question that Stadia poses is more to do with how we use our handheld devices for gaming, rather than ‘mobile gaming’ itself. For those of us lucky enough to possess the wireless infrastructure that ‘optimum’ Stadia will demand, it will be another attempt at engaging with a game streaming/cloud gaming platform, similar to what OnLive tried in the UK half a decade ago. Instead of jumping on to Meteorfall or Castles of Burgundy, you could instead fire up whatever AAA game is currently doing the rounds, and you wouldn’t need a console to do it. Further to that, if you’d been playing that game at home before you left your house, you could pick up exactly where you left off on your tablet or phone. Theoretically, you’d be playing with the exact same visual fidelity as well, with the only real difference being the interface.

But for the rest of us, the App stores and the games that end up there will remain our primary source of games on mobile. Android users I think have the most to be concerned about at the moment - It’s hard to judge the impact Stadia will have on the Google Play store. They’ll be some kind of integration for sure, but whether Google will try and phase it out, or encourage the devs there to use Stadia as an additional thing, only time will tell.  Apple, being a self-contained infinity engine, will probably continue as normal and as long as phones with physical memory still exist I suspect there will always be a demand for mobile games as we know them currently – stored locally on the device, built to the specifications of existing physical hardware.

google stadia

The real question is how will the app store game line-ups be affected: Will less devs make games for Google Play/Apple? Will the currently growing ‘console-games-on-mobile’ trend fall off with those companies switching to Stadia instead? How will this effect the currently popular business models on mobile. At the moment, there’s painfully little information as to how Stadia plans to monetise itself and provide revenue for developers. Is there a fundamental difference for developers and/or users between someone having Crashlands on their phone, or playing Crashlands via the cloud?

At the very least, we could be getting a snazzy new wireless controller out of this initiative. The Stadia controller was also announced during the showcase. It’s a Wi-Fi gamepad that’s apparently able to connect to any device. Whether it can be used for non-Stadia games we’re not sure – current reports indicate the controller hasn’t actually passed the FCC certification process yet, so a lot of its capabilities are still TBC.

The one thing we can say with confidence, however, is that we won’t have long to wait until we find out what all this means. Google Stadia plans to launch this year in 2019, and we’ll be keeping an eye on this as it develops. StadiaTactics confirmed.

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