Will Google's Stadia Make Consoles Obsolete?

Google’s upcoming video game streaming service Stadia aims to eliminate the middleman by letting you play games in 4K and 60 fps on almost any device as long as you have a decent internet connection (and are in the US, Canada, the UK or Europe). While this sounds pretty incredible on paper, it leaves us with a ton of questions.

I sat down with Kotaku’s Ethan Gach to talk about the things we find promising about this new service and the things that concern us about the future of streaming.

Watch the video to hear our thoughts, or read a short excerpt here:

Paul: Google is claiming that you can play games at 4K at 60 fps using a 30 Mbps connection, which I guess might be standard for some people but not taking into account people who have data caps or throttled internet connections.

If The Great British Baking Show cuts off and starts buffering, I start to get frustrated, and it’s nobody’s fault but my ISP’s. So I’m curious how their claims will hold up when it comes out.

Ethan: I’m someone who uses their Vita for remote play on the PS4 a lot, especially in a game like Destiny or Anthem where I’m just grinding out an activity that doesn’t require that much thought or precision while I’m watching TV with my partner.

I think one of the things that was disingenuous about the presentation was when they had all of these devices lined up, and the idea was, “Look, you can go seamlessly between all of these devices, maintaining your point in the game that you’re playing.”

This doesn’t feel like some transformative way to play all of your games so much as another tool or option for how to enjoy them in the same way that remote play, cross-buy and cloud saves make the experience more seamless. This feels like another avenue to do these things but not the holy grail of doing all of it.

Paul: Maybe this is enticing for people out there who have not upgraded to a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X or who don’t have a gaming PC. They’re like, “Oh yeah, maybe I’ll get back into gaming by opening up a new Google Chrome Tab and jumping into Doom Eternal.”

Ethan: That’s why I think the price is so important, and they haven’t talked about it yet.

There was a point in the presentation where they showed, on the screen behind Phill Harrison, a mock-up of a Stadia app on the Google Play store, which makes it seem like there’s going to be a marketplace within this app where you would, theoretically, buy Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for $US60. They haven’t talked about whether the service, like YouTube, will be free.


    Nah mate, it'll be shit.

      If the government had done fttp, it might be decent. On fttn, with all the issues of the copper last mile, yeah, its gonna be shit.

    No, it's a stupid knee jerk theory that precedes nearly any new service/product in an existing market.
    It's like the crazy homeless guy on the street corner screaming about the end of the word and gremlins stealing his thoughts.

    I mean come on, how many times has Nintendo been draped in the death robes of bad predictions?
    How often have people called the time of death for Sony because somebody got a few days of good press or sold a few units during the holidays?
    What about Steam boxes, weren't they the harbinger of the consoles end times?

      Steam Boxes were dead on arrival because they offered none of the benefits of consoles with all of the issues of PC games trying to play at being console versions. PC couch gaming is still very much YMMV cf console-specific games. Also Valve basically forgot about it/realised they were shit and abandoned it (along with the Steam Link which was not shit).

        Yeah exactly my point, on announcement the Steam Box was heralded as the end for consoles, only to flop spectacularly.

        I was actually keen to get one once it had established itself (and its many cousins) but as you said it just never put in the effort to genuinely bridge that gap.

    I doubt it will bring about the end of consoles. For one thing, console exclusivity exists. I can't see Sony or Microsoft offering up their exclusives to a Google service. Not unless there is a seriously major amount of money in it for them.

    I think Betteridge's Law holds with this one.

      “A headline with a question mark at the end means, in the vast majority of cases, that the story is tendentious or over-sold. It is often a scare story, or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and, preferably, a national panic. To a busy journalist hunting for real information a question mark means 'don't bother reading this bit”

      Do you think I'll remember that Law? I like it though, so hopefully I do.

      What if the headline was "Does Betteridge's Law apply to this headline?"

        thats like googling google or dividing by 0.

        I believe that it was decided a title questioning the law was not subject to the law (for shits and giggles mostly)

    Pay full price for a game, on a system that doesn't exist, which may just be eliminated at some point!!!!. Game pricing is bad enough at the moment with no physical version for PC's. (and consoles in some games).

      I paid $120 for Shadowman on N64 about 20 years ago. Sekiro was $64 three days ago. Not bad hey! Is game pricing on a PC really that bad? (I only by console games).

        You also paid for a physical cartridge back then as opposed to digital delivery. The N64 was known to be the console with the most expensive pricing in Australian history, with the average game actually reaching brand new prices of 119.95 (with some early Xbox 360 games actually trying to implement that too oddly, albeit unsuccesfully) and justifying it poorly by saying 'the hardware requires it.

        But as for the question of 'is game pricing on pc that bad'? Nah, not if you use the right (and not dodgy) sites. CDKeys and Green Man Gaming often have good discounts, Steam and the other stores regularly drop prices. The only time you really need to pay full price is if you're silly enough to buy the day OF or just after release. Either buy before for a discount or wait a while after for it to drop.

          Ah yeah - Sekiro was $64 physical. I wasn't really trying to argue a point or anything, it just seems to me like games are a lot cheaper these days once you factor in inflation.
          Thanks, good info - I'm a big advocate for the "release date + (at least) 12 months" gaming strategy. Really pumped for the upcoming release of God of War :P

            Haha. I find that sites like Gumtree also help you score some great deals as well. We found Detroit for 15 bucks and a mate got God of War 1 month after release for 35 dollars. (Granted all second hand, but all were in great condition)

        The market for videogames has increased incredibly in those 20 years and the current price of a new game isn't reflective of that expansion.

        So yeah, while the absolute price of a game is lower between the two time points, the price per 100K of players is likely substantially higher. The latter is what we should be giving a shit about.

          Development costs would have tracked similarly though yeah?

    Have video streaming services made physical media obselete?
    The service will be useful to many, but definitely not to everyone. I assume there will be a good market for both.

    Will Google's Stadia Make Consoles Obsolete?

    Not if our shitty NBN has anything to say about it!!!

    Google's answer to the question almost nobody was asking. Minor conveniences (in ideal circumstances) at a massive trade-off. From a company that has very little goodwill with the general public, having positioned themselves as a necessary evil more than anything.

    In Google's ideal world of global domination who makes the games? We've seen how they treat content creators.

    I'm actually shocked this got approved internally. Google will lose piles of money on it.

    Hey, remember when Video-On-Demand made DVDs and Blurays obsolete?

    yes, please take away my 144hz 1440p gaming pc and give me fuck tonnes of input lag and buffering. shouldnt technology be improving, not going back to the dark ages?

      It's just regular Google trying to fuck over retail stores and workers, component makers, developers (probably), and consumers (definitely). Business as usual :D Google doesn't want you to own anything. It wants you to feel like your entire life it reliant upon Google services. Then it owns you. Endgame complete.

    The connection bandwidth is assuming something that Australuan government got serious wrong with the NBN. 1) Consumer demands over time will blow that out, we aill be 8K 200fps in a matter of years with scaling, not including VR which needs extremely low latency.

    2) There is between 2 to 4 people in a family home. I someone is to stream a 4k game of Assassins Creed, then someone in the family wants Netflix in 4K. The bandwidth is going to chug. Let alone if we both decide to play the a game.

    3) Players multitask... they will be playing a gsme while also having a second screen running in the background. Be it watching a twitch stream, spotify, youtube.

    This wont be twitch streamer friendly. Most streamers dont have the bandwith for another 30Mbps... so they will skip it, or bitch about the connection, which eill make promoting Stadia to gamers well impossibly difficult.

    They'd have to actually not abandon something for once for it to even stand a chance at competing with consoles, let alone making them obsolete.

    It's still not clear why people compare game streaming services like Stadia, PS Now, etc with local LAN streaming tech like PS4 Remote Play and SteamLink. Sure, they're both using your home network infrastructure, but that's not generally where the bandwidth is limited or the majority of latency is added.

    Nope. Not while we have the worlds 60th best internet performance. HFC and FTTN farck me!

    Google Stadia making the Nintendo Switch PS4 and Xbox One X obsolete is just not going happen absolutely not.
    My answer is no fucking way.

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