Google has recently revealed Stadia, a cloud gaming service that is supposed to take the gaming world by storm. What we know right now about what they released is that the gamer can seamlessly play games across many consoles right from their Chrome browser with no download or installation time needed. I’ll let you check out all the features by yourself from their keynote announcement. It may seem like a standard “let's take on the gaming industry” move but there is much more than meets the eye. By launching Stadia, Google has conquered a huge hurdle in cloud computing and if they can successfully implement this into the market, this could be an even bigger power move than we think.
No Hardware Needed
Google takes ownership of the hardware issues you’ve previously had such as having to upgrade your graphics card/processor, and now gaming is not limited to what device you have and how powerful it is. This means they have shown that you need essentially a good internet connection and a device with a browser to run an intensive game. If this sounds all too familiar to you, you might be right! Does the Chromebook ring any bells?
The Chromebook perhaps was publicly considered a flop (although it can be debated) but it was something Google could really learn from. The Chromebook was meant for people with the purpose to use the browser and apps like sheets and docs to meet their needs, and no operating system needed. It did not quite cover the gaming aspect, and perhaps this is why they went into this industry, because of its lucrative growth and technically showing the power of cloud computing. The big speedbump to customer adoption is the internet connection, however, it is estimated by 2020, that half the world will be connected online and 5G technology has the potential to be faster than fiber optic landlines. To put this into perspective, 5G could top out at 10 Gigabits per second, meaning you could download a full two-hour movie in a matter of seconds. You will need to invest in a device that has 5G hardware, which is not really out yet.
With at least 15 of the worlds most valuable companies producing a computing device or hardware for it, how will this move affect them? This means manufacturers could make a computer with less expensive parts or even fewer parts. With fewer parts, you eliminate a lot of the hardware maintenance and increasing the lifecycle of the computer. Hardware developers like Nvidia would need to manufacture for servers in the data centers rather than to computer manufacturers and this could come with new challenges, products, and services.
From an abstract perspective, the combination of a large amount of computing power with a purchase of a lower spec device. I can only imagine what this means for other innovation, the return of Google Glasses, smart pens, IoT devices and etc.
Focusing on the gaming community, contrary to what most people may think, is evenly spread out between age and gender, which can relate to their strategy in the sense that they can penetrate and evenly spread out market and get them used to cloud computing.
Game developers, creators and/or gamers are no longer limited to hardware specifications as Google handles these changes. The question is would Google upgrade as fast as possible or upgrade as profitable as possible.
Emerging markets will still need to wait for better telecommunications infrastructure before utilizing some of the aspects of this computing power. Although, after implemented, those with access to fast connection speeds(not fast computers) from number different backgrounds will have the ability to have different kinds experiences, essentially going beyond gaming(For example creating animations, rendering, complex calculations or data processing). For now, only the US, Canada, UK, and Europe will have access to this power.
With Gaming as an access point, Google could get more insight into behavior in virtual worlds. This coupled with their current portfolio of data sources and their rapidly improving AI could give them more insight into people decision making processes in real life. It was slightly foreshadowed at the beginning of their keynote saying that Waymo is constantly collecting even more data and recording different real-life scenarios.
EU has greatly fined Google €1.49Bn for anti-trust violations, which means public authorities will keep an eye out of the implication of Stadia and what exact information they are collecting. With that said, EU authority also does not want to stifle innovation, so for the time being, they will most likely let it fly under the radar.
A possible failure point and perhaps what was learned from the launch of Chromebook was that people weren’t used to working on the cloud. Applications like Cloud Storage and Adobe Cloud Services (still has computer requirements) are on the markets but Stadia still presents a whole new realm of cloud computing. The gaming industry is a good niche to focus on cloud computing, while it is open to almost anyone with screen, browser and internet connection, Google could (re)introduce Chromebook with an exclusive feature that enhances the experience and incentivizes customers to buy their product.
Youtube as a platform on its own is hugely popular. Although, just like introducing Youtube Premium (or Youtube Red), in trying to get Netflix customers to Youtube, Stadia could be a step towards attaining Twitch (owned by Amazon) customers to Youtube as well. Will Google make an attempt to control the entire entertainment experience?
With this kind of external computing power, as I mentioned before, it gives Google the opportunity to create other products such as wearables and maybe even see the return of Google Glasses, or eliminate huge VR headsets. These products/services will not be out soon but it does leave a big opportunity space for them.
To sum up, Stadia is an impressive achievement and gaming industry should be afraid if they don’t adapt, but it is more of a milestone to googles cloud computing journey. In retrospect, what seems like a huge step actually is only a small step for Googles long term ambitions.
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