Google Enters the Gaming Fray with Stadia

Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

Rumors have circulated for years that Google was planning to join the competitive video game market and after much speculation, they have announced Stadia, coming late 2019. Stadia is not a piece of hardware, it is a streaming platform meant to connect their audience to games using any device that can run Google Chrome. With traditional video game consoles, you need to buy the system, controller and then the video games themselves. With Stadia, Google allows users to stream their favorite games on devices they already own.

While this concept sounds exciting, there are some issues to be ironed out. A lot of details about Stadia remain unknown. Google didn’t even announce a price for the service, saying more details would arrive in the summer. There is also the issue of internet connection. America’s internet infrastructure is horrendous and most places lack the speed necessary to stream this kind of high-end service. Google will need to lay out a plan that adequately addresses these issues.

On a more upbeat note, internet will never be worse than it is now. Meaning, internet speeds are only going to improve over time. Plus, Google is one of the few companies with enough financial clout to push for change that our internet service providers need. There is a lot of skepticism facing Stadia, but let’s not forget there were times where Netflix, Google, and many other ubiquitous companies were considered long shots.

When Microsoft entered the market in 2001, there was also a lot of skepticism about where they would fit in a market that has traditionally only supported two first-party companies. They proved to have staying power and many of the innovations they developed have been adapted throughout the industry. Who can say what effects Stadia will have on the industry?

Stadia represents an exciting change in the games industry, as Google becomes the fourth first-party, joining the ranks of Microsoft, PlayStation and Nintendo. For those not familiar with games lingo, first-party are the console makers and the studios that they have sole ownership of, second-party are developers with exclusive contracts to make games for first-party and third-party are independent studios that make games for all platforms. With Google entering the first-party scene, they will replace Microsoft as the new kids on the block.

There are still a lot of questions to answer about Stadia, but there is also a lot to be excited about. Stadia has the potential to reach consumers that historically haven’t been interested in gaming. Without selling actual hardware, they can virtually eliminate the barrier to entry. No longer will consumers need consoles that cost hundreds of dollars. Instead, there is potential to pay for your games à la carte or by joining a Netflix-esque service. Regardless of how Google’s latest venture shakes out, its bound to change the video game industry as we know it.