Thursday, May 2, 2019

Cloud Streaming Video Games

Not so long ago Google announced a new cloud streaming video game service called Stadia.  Instead of consumers purchasing a console (i.e. like a Xbox or Playstation) all games would be streamed from Google's cloud infrastructure.

Sony already has such a service called Playstation Now and Microsoft has announced a future one called Xcloud.

Lots of people are speculating about whether Google's gaming platform can be a console killer, but what I found so interesting is that no one seems to be talking about Google's #1 problem, and that's games.

Any first party exclusives produced by Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo will have zero chance of going onto Google's platform.  This includes huge titles like Halo, Zelda, God of War, etc.

One presumes that any AAA third party titles (lets take as an example the Grand Theft Auto series) that will be on Stadia will presumably be on all the other platforms it currently has, such as PC, Playstation, and Xbox.

So what buy in does a consumer have to actually play games on Stadia?

1) Google has to create it's killer game.

It has started a gaming division to produce first party titles for their platform, but it's anyone's guess if they will be able to create that truly ground breaking title.  Microsoft hit the jackpot with the original Xbox and Halo, but who knows if Google will be able to do the same.

2) Pricing.

This is where I think Google can actually make a difference.  Google can compete on pricing and undercut their competitors in one of two ways:

A) Offer a cheaper subscription service.

In the beginning I think this is going to be an absolute requirement.  As of this writing, Playstation and Xbox's subscription services have around 700 & 100 games respectively.  These of course come from both company's vast library of titles.  A casual glance shows that Xbox includes titles like Minecraft and Playstation has games from the God of War series.  Google will likely not have a library anywhere near as good from the start, so they will have to undercut these other services.

B) Amortize the cost of a console over many games.

If consumers don't have to purchase a console to play games, this makes games net cheaper, as the savings from the lack of a console can make games net cheaper.  Google has yet to announce the price of their game controller, but we can safely assume it is much cheaper than a console.

For me personally, I never actually keep games.  I buy them and then sell them after I beat the game.  So I spiritually "rent" games.  So a subscription service from Google would be more than welcome way for me to "rent" the games I want to play.  But that latter part is the kicker, it has to be something I want to play.

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