Written by Priyanshu Rastogi
Google has made its moves in the gaming industry, what will Sony and Microsoft do?
So last year Google made ripples in the gaming industry by launching its very own cloud-based gaming service called Stadia. As the launch date of November 19, 2019, grew closer, eager gamers from around the world started getting hyped up for what was essentially going to give us a way to play popular, graphic intensive games on any device that supports chrome browser. When it did launch, to many people’s surprise it was better than expected.
Google had promised 4K at 60 fps, which quite frankly, it did deliver if you had the internet speed of course, and the games ran smoothly with minimal to no lag, not to mention, the price of $10 a month was a big plus point. So the launch was a success, apart from a couple of people having a bad run with Stadia, it turned out to be a positive experience for most. Now after 4 months after its launch, the big question that remains to be answered is, where does this leave Sony and Microsoft with.
Sony and Microsoft are yet to launch their respective consoles and from what we know so far, both are expected to be pretty quintessential home-based consoles, but would people actually buy such $400-$500 consoles now that they can stream games to any chrome based-device they want for the price of a Netflix subscription? The answer is…no. Let me explain.
You see Google’s streaming service might be good but its biggest limitation is(and will always remain) its constant need to have an internet connection, that too with blazing fast speeds. Although most of the world does have internet connection today, a majority of them don’t have a fast one. The worldwide average for internet speeds stands at just above 7Mbps(megabits per second) as of 2017(source-https://www.fastmetrics.com/), which for Stadia, is quite terrible. Whereas with Playstation and Xbox you don’t necessarily need an internet connection to play what you want, this gives these consoles some sort of competitive advantage in many locations around the world, and especially in countries like India where people don’t have a stable connection.
Another argument that makes it or breaks it for most people is games. Think about this, what makes Sony fanboy buy a Playstation and a Microsoft fanatic buy an Xbox, it’s the games, cause both the consoles to have almost the same specifications, controller is different but that rarely makes a difference to anyone, especially when many people hook up third-party controllers anyway, the design is not what many people care about, but what they do care about is the variety and quantity of games the two systems offer.
Both Sony and Microsoft own a bunch of game studios, which pump out tons of exclusives each year, and that’s what a gamer truly cares about. A Halo fan wants to be able to play the next Halo, which can only be done on a Microsoft console, similarly, a God of War fan wants to be able to play the latest God of War which is a Playstation exclusive. This behavior demonstrated by people shows that they are willing to invest $400-500 dollars on a console just to play their favorite games as they have been for many, many years, and this is the biggest advantage both consoles have over Stadia.
With the above arguments, it is safe to say the two consoles are out of harm’s way, for now at least. As for the future, it is definitely uncertain but Sony and Microsoft don’t seem to be just sitting around and watching Google make moves, they are working to be prepared for the unpredictable future of their consoles. Microsoft has been for a while working on its own cloud-based gaming service codenamed xCloud which would be similar in fashion to Google’s Stadia. Sony also seems to be planning something of their own, evident from the fact that they recently signed a deal with their rival-Microsoft which lets them use Microsoft’s cloud servers to power whatever may be in preparation from their side.
Stadia might be the future of gaming, but change takes time, especially when talking about revolutionizing a whole industry. As for now, and I suspect for 3 to 4 more years, consoles are going to remain dominant in the gaming scenario, after that, who knows Sony and Microsoft might kill their own product and start to embrace the novel technology of cloud gaming.