Google Stadia

awwsmm profile image Andrew (he/him) ・2 min read

Google unveiled their new video game streaming service today, Stadia. Think of it like Netflix for video games -- you wouldn't need to own any hardware other than the screens you already have (your laptop, phone, smart TV). You simply (presumably) buy a subscription to the service, a fancy Google controller, and you can play 4K HD 60fps games anywhere.

This is a direction that the video game market is naturally poised to move toward, where big tech companies can perform all the number-crunching on their servers and simply stream the resulting video to your screen. Microsoft is working on a competing service, called xCloud.

There are downsides to this approach, of course, the most obvious one being latency. It takes time to send your commands to one of Google's servers, have the server perform whatever calculations it needs to do to render the next frame, then send that frame back to you. Gamers on Twitter have decried the lack of any mention of the "L" word during Google's announcement.

Streaming video games also means that you don't own a physical copy of the game, which bothers some. If a publisher decides to pull all their content from Stadia, could you do anything about it? What rights do you have as a subscriber?

I'm very interested in where this is headed, but I have a feeling it might take a while to catch on. Anyway, it will certainly open up a new niche for gamers and game studios alike. What are your thoughts?

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Andrew (he/him)


Got a Ph.D. looking for dark matter, but not finding any. Now I code full-time. Je parle un peu français. dogs > cats


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tl;dr: That's all fun and games (pun intended) but I feel like it's unnecessary and made only for the "wow effect" with more cons than pros.

My reaction to it is basically the same as every time I hear "streaming" and "gaming" in the same sentence: meh.

I kinda love the idea for the "wow effect" and the whole "this is the future" thing, because it's indeed quite impressive technically speaking.

But putting this aside, I really don't like the idea of streaming games because I feel like the cons outweighs the pros. I mean, what are the pros?

  • Playing anywhere? That's cool but does anyone really need (or even want) that? Not so sure.
  • Playing high quality games on weak hardware? I'll give them that.


  • You need internet to play, that's definitely an issue in a world were we already depend on internet for a lot of things.
  • You need high bandwidth internet to play. A lot of people don't have that and won't have that before a long, long time. And even for those who do, it's not for life. What happens when one moves somewhere with shitty bandwidth?
  • Input lag. I gave a try to local game streaming recently on a Gigabit network with very decent hardware. Input lag was light but still noticeable, too noticeable for some games. So I doubt we'll ever have over-the-internet game streaming services with no input lag, which means some type of games (online games, fast paced games, etc...) won't ever be playable on this type of services.

And of course there's the usual issue I have with non-physical support: you don't own anything, but that's another debate (that's basically purchase vs. rent at that point, but still).

Anyway, that's a very cool thing but the "it's the future of gaming" speech kinda pisses me off because it's just plain wrong. It reminds me of 3D movies or VR gaming... they were (and still are) sold as revolutions but are in fact niche techs no one really needs to enjoy the original media.

I'm in no way opposed to innovation but, you know, why fix something if it's not broken? Gaming works well as it is and it's already moving fast, we don't really need more options... especially when they don't actually serve the games themselves... which should be the focus IMO.

That being said, being a tech-loving person and an avid gamer I'll definitely give it a try when it will be available, but I doubt it will change the way I consume video games.


You need high bandwidth internet to play

I think anyone who can afford a console i.e Xbox or Playstation, can and will be able to afford good internet connection.

And it's not like all the games will mandatorily play in 4K 60fps. Just like network speed determine what video quality we get, some will play theirs on 720p, others 1080p. Heck some might get 144p, i guess.

My point is, we already stream a ton of things already. A ton. So when everyone is placing emphasis on bandwidth bandwidth, I think it's just too much of a stretch.

If you have decent internet connection, you should be able to play.

Now, latency is where my worry might be. Streaming video is generally a one way street. But gaming is both ways. So the next frame being dependent on my input now is gonna be an interesting one.

However, I hope it turns out to be great. Fingers crossed.

We'll have to have access then actually use it to be able to make end user analysis.


I think anyone who can afford a console i.e Xbox or Playstation, can and will be able to afford good internet connection.

It's not about the cost, it's about the fact that some areas (a lot of them actually) simply don't have access to high bandwidth internet. In the village I grew up in (i.e. where I spent my youth playing video games) the bandwidth is about 300KB/s (in the good days). It's been like that for years and won't change any time soon.

As for the rest: yes, people with low bandwidth can play but still won't enjoy the full extent of the service, that's the issue I have with this. I feel the same pain when I see my parents watch shows on Netflix, waiting a couple minutes for it to load and end up with 360p while I enjoy instant 4K for the same f****** monthly cost.

And no I don't think it's too much of a stretch to place emphasis on bandwidth exactly because there are too many things streamed today. Remember when I say my parents have a hard time watching Netflix? Guess what happens when me and my brother come home and use Spotify, Youtube or even another Netflix instance at the same time? Bandwidth isn't unlimited and relying too much on it is a problem. Sure, in my everyday life in a big city living alone with 30MB/s for myself it's all fun and games, but not all people have (or can have) that.

It IS about the cost, or more succinctly: cost constitutes a significant factor in consumers's buying decision. Stadia is very accessible precisely because of its low comparative cost ($0/mo or $10/mo USD). Not only does this not require a sizeable up-front expenditure, it also carries a reasonable competitive cost amortized over the lifetime of an upgrade cycle, and is arguably much, much more convenient.

And I think you're mistaken to assume that a product must meet the needs of the majority of the market to be successful. This is a fallacy that often prematurely stifles business endeavours. A product need only turn its owning company sufficient profit, and I'm sure Google is well aware of, and satisfied with the state of telecommunications now and/or in the projected future, and that it will support its investment in the product line. Simply put, I doubt that they would release such a product, at such a scale, unless they thought it would make money.

And hey, Google is not alone in this: Sony has already had success with its streaming service Playstation Now (despite sparse and exceptionally negative media coverage) and are likely going to upgrade their service (reports of Sony purchasing server time from MS) and Microsoft is launching its streaming service xCloud. Other players like Ubisoft also are streaming on Nintendo Switch which may see a broader distribution down the line.

Why would these companies move so aggressively if they were concerned with bandwidth? I think that game streaming is viable and that OP has the right idea.


And of course there's the usual issue I have with non-physical support: you don't own anything, but that's another debate (that's basically purchase vs. rent at that point, but still).

We're already at that point with Steam and downloading the default assumption for video game purchases, though. Nintendo eShop loses support and you lose access to redownloading your games. Better have backups of installers for everything :\

Fundamentally, I don't agree with Internet-based gaming requirements, though. I did't agree with the Xbone E3 initial reveal when I was on a college campus and from a small town with no internet access. I don't agree with it now when I'm in the city and my hometown still barely has internet access (1 provider, bad service and reliability). The US, at least, is simply not ready for this to be anything but a gimmick. It's not going to kill the big players of the gaming industry.


We're already at that point with Steam and downloading the default assumption for video game purchases, though.

And that's one of the reasons why I prefer playing on console rather than on PC: physical games are still a real thing there.

Agreed, internet-based gaming requirements are clearly not ideal in today's world and that's not going to kill the old way of doing things anytime soon (e.g. Sony already announced they are not interested in streaming for the PS5).


I happened to take part in the technical trial that happened just before the new year. Generally, it worked very well input latency/lag was never an issue. I did have some slight video artifacts from time to time but, that seemed to be more connection-related then service related. I would say that if one can watch a high def video on YouTube then it should be fine to use the service. Once the service goes wide though I'm sure it will also depend on distance to datacenters etc, etc.


As a GNU/Linux user, this finally is the solution to the last reason that legacy OS users weren't able to switch. Also, because they chose Vulkan, Linux and AMD, I expect the drivers on that side (which are already really good now) to be even better soon.


I buy downloadable triple A games all the time (most recent purchases including God of War and Dragon Quest XI). Not having a physical copy doesn't bother me.

Input latency matters more for action games than other games (like RPG). If it is less than 20ms, it can work.

Obviously streaming AAA games is something that many companies promises before (big and small), yet I am super excited to see what Google deliveries.


Fast-paced online multiplayer games (Rocket League comes to mind) are a nightmare with high latency. For those sorts of games, Stadia will only be playable for people with high-bandwidth internet.


So it is based on a couple of projects that already failed.

Google, are you kidding us?

Anyways, technically, hosting a remote machine for gaming is incredibly expensive. Hosting a server for a website is fairly cheap because the infrastructure is aimed at it and the server are power friendly. But hosting a machine that it's power hungry, expensive and less likely to be shared is insane.


...what if we put it on the blockchain?


The blockchain is based on trust, it's not based on distributed load. Instead, torrent could work to distribute the load or at least the bandwidth. While technically it is possible but it something that we are yet implemented.


I'm so down with this idea!

While I can definitely understand the qualms folks have with making games even more internet-dependent, I think the pros will outweigh the cons for me personally. Disclosure: I play a lot of multiplayer games on Xbox Live, so that shapes my world view of gaming... hence, I'm already pretty used to the necessity of being connected. However, I do realize that this could make playing single player games on PC pretty annoying if you had to constantly worry about latency.

For me though, the biggest pro is the convenience of not having to install every game I want to play!

I am still a bit worried about lag... but, something else that I started thinking about while reading this was that hopefully this will mean more people will try to solve latency problems! Perhaps all online gaming will become smoother in the process. Or who knows, I mean I've always dreamt of playing music online with friends, but see latency as a huge hurdle to that... could this make virtual jamming with friends a thing?

It's cool to think about the other possibilities that could come out of solving these issues.


I don't see this appealing too much to existing PC / console gamers, except in cases where you might want to play a game that's only on a platform that you don't own. They're the most likely to want to own a copy of the games they like rather than subscribe to a service.

Where it will appeal the most is in expanding the market for gaming to those people who might not want to or might not be able to invest $1-2K for a PC or $300-500 for a dedicated video game console. If they can play games on their phone or tablet for a fixed monthly cost, then that would be worth it.

It's been proven that there's room for both subscription services and ownership of digital/physical copies in the music, television and movie industries, so why not games as well?


except in cases where you might want to play a game that's only on a platform that you don't own

Zelda is the only reason I've ever considered buying a Nintendo console


This is going to make VR mass market. No more 2k computer, stream directly from the headset.


Good project.

Hope this could give much of open source libraries to play.