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The Gaming Industry

In 2020, the global gaming market was estimated to be valued at $162.32 billion. Given the continuous growth in this industry, it is soon expected to reach $295.63 billion by 2026- depicting a CAGR of 10.5% over this period (2021 to 2026).

These numbers are fascinating, to say the least, and the rise of cloud gaming, at present, is what is driving the gaming market. Recent innovations and developments in advanced cloud technology have successfully transformed the notion of cloud gaming into reality. As we head deep into 2021 and beyond, there is no doubt that, currently, cloud gaming is in direct competition with the traditional console gaming market!

Statista estimated in 2017 that the worldwide cloud computing market was worth roughly $45 million. Just six years later, Statista forecasts that cloud computing will be valued at around $450 million, a 900 percent increase between 2017 and 2023. Statista is also of the opinion that bringing gaming to the cloud provides a way to get high engagement and profit streams into the cash-intensive world of cloud computing, which in the long run offers scalability and cost efficiencies.

Infographic: The Sky Is the Limit for Cloud Gaming | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

The Stadia Approach

For a moment, let us be honest- everyone in the entertainment industry wants to come up with ‘the next big thing;’ they aspire to be the founder of the product or service that shall eventually take over the consumer market, drive sales and bring up those big profit numbers for the company- developing a situation wherein they leave the competitors chasing them in a bid to catch up with them (i.e., their product/service).

Now, if we consider the fast-evolving video-gaming industry, this phenomenon especially holds true.

Google had finally entered the rising gaming industry with their new service- Google Stadia in November 2019. However, truth be told, as of mid-2021, they have a lot of ground to make up, given that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have been prominent players in the gaming consoles market who dominate this gaming space.

Nevertheless, Google being the technology giant that we know it is, has made up its mind and set its eyes on the gaming industry and had launched its brand-new service a couple of years back. Unfortunately, their plans haven’t materialized as they’d have hoped, and a couple of years later, into this venture, Google’s Stadia has been proving to be a disappointment.

What is Google Stadia?

Let’s start by understanding what Google Stadia is- it is Google’s entry into the console gaming market. However, the innovation on their part is to do away with the physical console itself essentially and instead be an entirely cloud-based gaming service.

It features high-speed game streaming in full 4K resolution and may be accessed through PCs, tablets, laptops, and even smartphones now. It’s also integrated with YouTube, which was thought to be a huge selling point.

However, it is essential to note that as it is a game streaming service and not based on one of the traditional consoles, Google (for now at least) has not been developing exclusive titles for the service. Simply saying, nothing related to the concerned game is downloaded onto the device it’s being played on; every required file is accessed directly through cloud technology.

Now, in terms of pricing, Stadia originally came with two types of subscriptions. Games need to be purchased individually, and Google is planning on adding more and more games, soon.

Ever since its announcement, there’ve been debates whether this type of business model would be sustainable (w.r.t pricing and consumer satisfaction), and if it could tackle the likes of existing giants like Microsoft (Xbox product line) and Sony (PlayStation product line).

Where did Google go wrong?

Yes, you read it right. Even Google can make mistakes! They went horribly wrong!

Let’s not be too quick to call Google Stadia a “Fail” but it’s not been a success either. There have been numerous complaints about Stadia. Some gamers have reported that the games felt sluggish depending on the WIFI signal/ speed, with games often appearing to have a compressed resolution and audio. Even on wired connections, gamers reported issues over latency.

In the beginning, Phil Harrison (Vice President and GM, Google Stadia) had stated that an internet connection speed of approximately 25 Mbps for 1080p resolution at 60 fps was recommended for the best use of the service. Now let’s get real, what percentage of the whole world (even considering where gamers reside) has access to such high-speed internet? Rural area residents or people with low and poor connectivity ought to find themselves in a compromised position in such a case.

Moreover, adding to this pressing concern, some gamers also complained that the library of games focused chiefly on first-person shooting and hit titles, which didn’t allow for a whole lot of choice for the service-users and seemed to be designed specifically for the more casual audience.

In addition, there had been complaints of games turning out not to be running at full 4K resolutions (as advertised with Red Dead Redemption 2 by Google). Some of the titles also struggled to maintain a 60fps which caused further concern to the gamers.

The design of the Stadia controller by Google is relatively smooth and easy-going. But truth be told, this accessory alone cannot define the entire user experience of gaming. The whole customer experience is spoiled by the need to install two separate applications on their devices.

The entire stadia experience lacks a whole lot of simplicity and smoothness when compared to traditional consoles- like for instance, initially, it didn’t support ‘Achievements;’ an essential feature like ‘Family Sharing’ does not even exist on the platform, and gamers originally had the choice to create only one account per user.

Besides all this, one of the biggest complaints was that the consumers didn’t and would never own their stadia purchased games. Is paying the full price to rent out a game sustainable? Not quite.

Google’s humongous investments have meant that a large part of their reputation is at stake owing to this project of theirs; and as things stand, the project seems to be at risk.

Way Forward For Google Stadia: Future Success or a Failure?

Frankly speaking, cloud gaming is the future of gaming, and the internet is sure to take over traditional consoles very soon- even if not soon, it is, for the most part, inevitable.

But whether Stadia will be a part of it, in its current model, is a difficult question to answer. However, to announce Google’s new venture as a complete failure would be incorrect. This is primarily because of the technology that is attached to it- it is, undoubtedly, a step forward in the right direction in this constantly evolving world of technology.

Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially. Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.

Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM, Google Stadia

In this context, it is essential to comprehend that the success of cloud gaming platforms depends a lot upon internet connectivity. Hence, with the advent of 5G technology coupled with increased internet inclusiveness across various countries, Google must make sure that it gets the underlying problems/ issues fixed.

For example, adding significant titles to its platform, to begin with, is sure to help Stadia receive more traction among gamers. Once the whole experience caters to the needs of the consumers (in this case, the gamers), the Stadia project should take off for the better and prove its worth.


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Srideep Das
Author

I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics, and my passion for the same has, over time, landed me onto the Consulting industry. As an individual, I believe in Empowerment- I’ve worked with multiple organisations in the social space and I’m glad to have been able to contribute positively towards society. Currently, I am Business student at SDA Bocconi (Mumbai & Milan). I love travelling and watching football- I’m an arduous supporter of Manchester United!

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