The Current State of Google Stadia and What This Means for the Future of Game Streaming?Jul 28, 2021 | 0 Votes by jose - rate There has been recent industry news about Google Stadia and it doesn't look that good. What is currently happening to Stadia will no doubt affect the other players in the Cloud Gaming industry. Let's examine how the events came to be and what it currently means for cloud game streaming today and the coming future.
Last February 2021, the gaming industry was rocked by news of Google shutting down its in-house Cloud Game development studio/ department. It was shocking not only for the dept. Itself but for the industry people involved with Cloud Gaming as a whole. This meant that Google Stadia (launched in 2019) was not probably doing that good that they had to abandon their Cloud Game development efforts. Unfortunately, they did bring in the best when it came to making games. Jade Raymond is one lady that is well known all over the games industry, and her ability as a game producer has been time tested through the years. From EA to Ubi Soft, the lady has made a name for herself, so with the shut-down of Stadia Games and Entertainment and both its US and Canadian studios, it really comes in as sort of an ominous revelation.
To begin with, Stadia was not able to handle the number of users logging in during peak hours to play games. In Cloud gaming practice, each player would need a separate GPU to handle the two-way high-quality data streaming going back and forth. Stadia uses a dedicated custom-made AMD chipset to run its servers. Each one uses a custom x86 processor, a GPU with 10.7 teraflops of power, and 16GB of RAM. According to Google, the 10.7 teraflops of GPU surpasses the processing power of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X combined. Theoretically, Stadia servers can handle more users (per game) compared to standard servers. Still, the unforeseen horde of gamers logging in (both subscribers and guests) seems to have begun causing bottleneck problems with the servers. The bandwidth is not enough to carry them all, which will definitely create customer discouragement and dissatisfaction. Added to this are other problems like latency and ISP issues that could crop up during intense gameplay.
Stadia is operating with the same fundamental problems that plagued the earlier cloud gaming enterprise attempts experienced by On-Live, PlayStation Now, and the others. In other words, they were using current broadband communications technology that may not be able to efficiently and effectively provide the needed distribution speeds for the two-way data flow required by cloud-based video gaming depending on one's location and distance from a Stadia server.
Another problem that Stadia currently faces is its competition with the games console. While it's true that cloud gaming can surpass console gaming in terms of graphics quality, the blatant technical issues associated with streaming interactive game data back and forth the data lines or airwaves can cause lags or sluggish performance issues that would practically be absent when playing on a console (or PC) in front of you. The advantage of no download, no install, and no disc or USB drive needed to contain the game is somewhat canceled out when the technical glitches would start to expose their ugly heads in the midst of a game. For a gamer, it just wouldn't be worth the frustration.
The biggest hurdle that Stadia faces today is the answer to the question, "Was it all worth it?". Can Stadia pull up despite the losses and the gazillion of costs incurred to bring the service into fruition? According to industry insiders, the games that have to be ported over to the cloud gaming platform are approximately reaching costs into the tens of millions. Standard game format (whether console or PC) will not run on Cloud gaming as they have to be kind of re-written for the 2-way interactive high-speed and high-graphic quality server-to-gamer data transfer. Add to this all the other costs like marketing, server hardware and maintenance, and so on.
To get gamers to sign-up, Stadia has been offering many cut-downs and promotions, and from its initial start in 2019 to this 2021, the gaming public was less than enthusiastic about joining the Cloud Gaming bandwagon. Again, the user dissatisfaction with the technical issues currently plaguing the service is not looking good for cloud gaming in general at the current time. It looks like a lot of work will be cut out for Google to turn the current situation into a more profitable environment. To date, there is an estimated 11.6 thousand players overall on Stadia, and that currently isn't enough to barely break the ice.
Like all business risks, there will be losses and casualties. That casualty was Jade Raymond and her hard-working cadre of 150 developers who had no idea that they would be laid off because of Stadia's unsatisfactory performance and not delivering all that they promised. It is painful that Stadia's internal game development dept. They didn't even get the chance to prove themselves by launching Stadia's flagship game which would have been a new approach in gaming technology. Ms. Raymond brought her veteran expertise to Google. Still, unfortunately, the performance and situation of the services could no longer support the department's vision and efforts Stadia had spearheaded in the first place.
As for the future of game streaming, the time will come when the technology will be able to catch up to the needs of Cloud Gaming services "But Not Today." Unlike other streaming applications like one-way media streaming services, namely NetFlix and Disney Plus, which are raking in users and profits, a more efficient and effective network environment where distance, speed, and several users will not depreciate the data-streaming information needs that will be required to make the cloud gaming service a practical and profitable reality. However, inventions and innovation have continually brought humanity to great heights by creating needs and effects that lead to more creativity and growth. For big companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, and others and the star-ups who dare to take the plunge, success may be just around the corner. Only time will tell.