Stadia, a newly announced game streaming service from Google, is seeking to redefine the very concept of sharing in gaming. Much like other aspects of the platform, it’s relying on a series of experimental technologies in order to allow for use cases meant to be innovative and convenient, though the current version of the service appears to have issues with combining those two targets.
Cue features such as State Share and Crowd Play. The former allows your friends to join your particular gaming session. Google’s original vision is to allow for such connectivity when one player is stuck and wants to ask their friend or group thereof for help so as to still play some role in surmounting a massive challenging, i.e. keep some sense of accomplishment in doing so successfully. Naturally, Alphabet’s subsidiary claims the sky is the limit in regards to how this service can be used.
If all of that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s extremely similar to a functionality of many PlayStation 4 games released in recent years. Then again, Stadia is essentially just PlayStation Remote Play which replaces your console with a cloud computer. Come to think of it, this makes Stadia sound more akin to the PlayStation Now platform, albeit significantly prettier, i.e. more polished.
On the other hand, Crowd Play is something akin to co-streaming Microsoft’s Mixer has been offering for a while now, but taken up a notch in order to allow for entire servers to be popular with people who were previously watching someone play on them and wanted to join them.
This is described as a particularly massive opportunity for content producers seeing how it provides them with a straightforward venue toward engaging with the most loyal and hence most deserving portions of their audiences.
Taking an existing concept, refining it through a combination with something else or standalone overhaul, and implementing it into a minimalist package that’s easy to navigate, equally suitable to veteran PC gamers and someone who has no idea what a “driver” could mean if it’s not denoting a person operating a car or a golf club. As such, Stadia manages to feel extremely familiar while still not being directly comparable to any other mainstream option on the market.
The fact remains that Google is neither the first to dabble into streaming as a method of delivering interactive experiences instead of pure depictions of someone else having them, nor does it have too much relevant experience in terms of gaming of any sort.
The latter point is why its announcement of an in-house game studio doesn’t carry as much weight as most other components of today’s Stadia unveiling; yes, software is Google’s territory and it certainly isn’t completely devoid of creative talent but the kind of games that sets new quality standards and serves as an advertisement for the platform powering it isn’t the sort of entertainment that happens on accident.
While it’s certainly possible Google goes out on an acquisition spree in the coming months and starts buying up game-making talent, there are currently no indications of such a move being on the cards and most other big names in the industry are either already working on streaming services of their own or fundamentally disagree with Google’s vision of a unified gaming ecosystem.
After all, the only party usually rooting for walled gardens is their owner.
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