Yesterday, Google announced its long awaited platform for streaming games, Stadia. In the news post, we called it an "invasion" of gambling: this combination of platform and delivery service has the potential to compete with consoles, PCs and mobile games simultaneously.
Google's ambition is huge, but its the task. The game industry, as we know it, is stagnating in terms of innovation, but its largest companies are firmly rooted and experienced. If Stadia is to compete with people like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, it will have to hit three key elements when it starts later in 201
Get the Games
The most important element of the puzzle of the gaming platform is: of course the games. Consoles live and die in the selection of their games. Get exclusive and coveted titles (either third-party or console vendor developers) to make sure you succeed.
With Stadia, Google is already on the right track. The best step is undoubtedly to become a publisher yourself. Google hired Jade Raymond, formerly game maker and studio manager for the mega-publishers EA and Ubisoft, to lead their own game studio. Stadia Games and Entertainment, a stand-alone company affiliated with the ever-growing Alphabet foundation, will develop its own games for the Stadia platform and bring independent developers on board for their games.
Another good move: announcing Stadia at the annual Game Developer Conference, rather than at the upcoming Google I / O show or E3. The introduction of Stadia especially for game developers and publishers, who not least demonstrated the unique design flexibility of the Linux and Vulkan-powered remote hardware, has awakened the imagination of many game makers. Today, one day after the announcement, you can bet that game directors and developers will meet with Google's Stadia team at GDC to test the platform and get games on startup.
Stadia is not the first game platform for a 100% remote streaming setup: The unfortunate OnLive became Sony's PlayStation Now, NVIDIA's GeForce Now is currently in beta, and Shadow allows a more technical, individualistic approach. Microsoft is most likely going into streaming with the next Xbox, and Gerizia suggests that Verizon and Amazon are also testing it.
But Stadia is the first streaming system built from the ground up and based on the enormous power of Google's data centers in terms of streaming. It features deep hooks in Chrome and YouTube (to capture the Twitch audience), powerful new ways to play split-screen and asynchronous multiplayer modes, and snapped support for very popular developer tools like Unreal Engine, Unity, CryEngine, and Havok for a new platform.
This means that not only can developers easily port their existing projects to Stadia's hardware, but they can also create completely new types of games that are only WithStadiasWebStreamingandScalabilityFeatures
During the GDC presentation, Google demonstrated partnering projects with Ubisoft, Bethesda, 2K, Square-Enix, Tangent Games, Tequila Works and Q-Games, but at the time of writing only from Id Software . DOOM Eternal was confirmed for publication in Stadia. Of course, Google can still upset its initial relationship by restricting developers with restrictive platform rules or simply asking for too much pay cut. What is a nice transition to …
The Price is Right
One of Google's biggest stumbling blocks reveals the pricing model. Not only do we not know how much stadia costs when it comes on the market, we also do not know what price structure it uses.
There are different possibilities here. A current industry trend is the so-called "Netflix model": you pay a single price, get access to all the games of the service, no further purchases and no restrictions. Sony's PlayStation Now works with this method and costs $ 20 a month. Xbox Game Pass, EA's Origin Access and Humble Monthly, similar all-you-can-eat game setups, which still require traditional downloads, cost between $ 5 and $ 15 per month.
Google could also go in the opposite direction and offer all users Stadia, but for every game the full price like Steam. This seems more likely than a Netflix approach for several reasons. First, Google's game developers are unwilling to abandon a fully paid release system: they depend on the massive sales increase of a new AAA title with a price of $ 60-100. Second, during the presentation, Google VP Phil Harrison gave a brief glimpse into the possible price approach of Stadia.
It's about 1:08 in the video: Harrison (another veteran of the gaming industry) told the developers, "The Internet is becoming your store. "He said the players could buy games" in our stadia store ". The fact that there is even a digital storefront, rather than just a gallery or a launcher, suggests that at least some games are sold as usual.
Google shows social network ads for the "Stadia Store" referring to a la carte purchases. Google
The third option is for Google to mix these two models and charge a small fee for access to Stadia and additional costs for games. This is still a low entry barrier to attracting many new users, especially those who are wary of spending hundreds of dollars on consoles or PCs. And game developers and publishers can keep their high introductory prices. Google may include its own Stadia G & E titles (as well as cheaper indie games or legacy titles) as the loss leader in the subscription fee.
This mixed model seems most likely to me, as it Google stabilized revenue for the platform, publishers keep satisfied with standard sales and advertise for players when the monthly price is low enough. A free trial, which is always a popular approach to streaming services like Google's own YouTube TV, would be an obvious inclusion.
The final ingredient in a secret sauce for a perfect stadia startup is marketing, which Google is the least equipped to win. Google has never been good at marketing its products directly to consumers. The flop of the Nexus line of otherwise award-winning phones and tablets, Android Wear and Google Glass is a testament to Google's lack of labeling capabilities – a Google leader said so himself a few years ago. Poor marketing is likely to contribute to Google's lack of forward momentum at the Pixel brand, which can now be severely curtailed.
That's a big problem. Not only because the game depends heavily on marketing, but also because Stadia is not a product that can easily turn into a 30-second TV commercial (or even a 5-second YouTube pre-roll ad) , To sell to gamers, Google needs to emphasize that Stadia is completely different from traditional PCs and consoles, and why its unique streaming hardware enables new types of gaming experiences.
Get into an elevator room and you can accept Don Draper. By the way, Sterling Cooper could probably have found a better name than Stadia.
"The future of gambling is not a box," reads the Stadia promotional video. It is a place. "That's pretty good for Google. It also highlights one of the tools that Google will rely heavily on the first push: YouTube. Despite the twitching power of the Stadia YouTube integration, Google's ownership of the Web's default video platform may be the biggest asset. In the first few months after launching the platform, Google will saturate players with ads on YouTube at virtually no cost.
If Google has desirable games and eye-catching exclusives for Stadia, consumers can swallow the price enough. Combine Combo Deals: New Pixel phones and Google Home hardware, YouTube TV subscriptions, and Google Drive service fees are likely to have some Stadia giveaways – and you've got what it takes to be a true competitor. I'll go ahead and predict that Google will provide the Wi-Fi powered Stadia controller and the Chromecast Ultra in a $ 100 bundle as a low-cost and easy entry point.
A beautiful new world
There are other hurdles for Google. Fast broadband Internet is far from ever-present in North America, its largest potential market. (Man, would not it be nice if Google had also tried to solve this problem?) Now that plans are being released for Stadia, Microsoft, Sony, et al. will work against that … and not necessarily with their own streaming extensions. They could simply rely on their existing relationships with publishers to make more attractive deals and keep Google off the market until the threat is overcome. And of course I assume that Stadia has no massive performance or usability problems at the start.
That being said, I'm still optimistic. Stadia could be the biggest change in the world of gambling since the online multiplayer game, should Google hold the landing. If Google does not manage to blow them all up, Stadia could still emerge as the much needed competitor to the current big players.
And even if Stadia crashes and burns in the ever-growing Google Cemetery, it looks like the company will leave its full power behind for the launch. With a bit of luck, the game market will be shaken in an exciting way, especially with the next generation of consoles (and the associated turbulent frenzy) on the horizon.