Streaming was the hottest buzz word at this year's E3. It seemed like every major game company or developer mentioned streaming in some capacity, whether it was announcing streaming services for their catalog of games or finding a way to stream games to any device you could think of.
However, it's Microsoft that may have the advantage when it comes to entering the streaming market, considering its recent move away from relying entirely on home consoles. It has begun to expand the concept of what its gaming focus is, and this includes more synergy between its Xbox consoles, PC, and other devices beyond that. By introducing Project xCloud for the Xbox Scarlett, it is beginning to hook many gamers.
However, this could be pretty bad news for Google and its new Google Stadia.
Google's Late Entry Into The Gaming Race
Google surprised a lot of people this year when it announced that it was getting into the video game business. There had been rumors for years that big tech companies like Apple and Google were looking for a way to get some of that sweet gaming money, and so far, 2019 is the year those rumors become facts.
While Apple is simply looking to set up a subscription model so you can play games on its devices, Google is going all in on streaming. The Google Stadia will be a device that can stream games at up to 4K resolution over the internet. You can even use a Google Chromecast to stream, as well. There will also be a monthly subscription, although you can just buy games instead.
Google isn't a small company, and it hsa been in the tech business for quite some time. The video game industry is an entirely different beast, however, and it is entering into it pretty late. It is an unproven company when it comes to gaming, and with Project xCloud looking to do that exact same thing as Stadia, Microsoft might wind up eating Google's lunch when all is said and done.
The Strength Of The Xbox
Microsoft already has a pretty decent install base when it comes to the Xbox One, so there are already several million potential users ready to go all in on Project Scarlett. This means that there will likely be a pretty good population of players able to use Project xCloud. Furthermore, the service is promising 3,500 games across the history of Xbox consoles. Essentially what this means is that once xCloud goes live, you can play Halo, Gears Of War, or Forza anywhere and any way you want.
Though Google has partnered up with some powerful players in the industry like Ubisoft and Bungie, it doesn't have the same clout as Microsoft, which has been producing Xbox consoles since 2001. If you just look at PC, you could argue that it has been in the industry even longer than that.
The Xbox doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but we can't be sure that Google's Project Scarlett will be as stable. The tech giant has been successful in a lot of its endeavors, but it has also been more than willing to cut projects that weren't working out.
The Google Graveyard
A website called Killed By Google goes through the multitude of failed experiments that Google has attempted. Remember Google Jump, the cloud-based VR solution or Google Hangouts, the failed messaging app? You might have also received a notification about Google+, which has recently shut down. Google also recently stuck a fork in YouTube Gaming, which was its attempt at running against Twitch for streamer supremacy.
The point is that Google doesn't mind pulling the plug on something if it's not as profitable as they want it to be. Google Stadia is a huge risk, and it very well might not pay off. So if a year goes by, and the numbers aren't where they should be, the Stadia servers could easily be turned off for good.
If this works out, what will happen to the money players spent on Stadia's subscription service or the games they purchase for the Stadia? Everything will be streamed, and if there are no servers to stream from, then it seems like we'll just be throwing our money down a digital hole.
Microsoft has a proven track record already, so why would anyone take such a risk? It has an established brand and a huge library of popular games. Plus, fans have more ownership over their games. Presumably, even if we can't use xCloud, we should still have a way of playing our games on a Microsoft machine. If Stadia goes down, though, all we'll be left with is a nice looking paperweight.
The Stadia Depends On A Strong Internet Connection
This brings up another potential problem: the issue of the Stadia being entirely dependent upon the internet. It was recently revealed that 65 hours of 4K streaming from the Stadia will apparently use up 1 TB of data. There are many people who have a data cap with their internet providers, and a full terabyte might be more than most can afford.
Many areas also don't have access to the kind of high-speed internet necessary to get the kind of performance you'd need to play games on the Stadia. Latency is a huge issue when it comes to streaming. All it would take is just a teensy bit of lag for your gaming experience to be ruined.
The next Xbox will likely have the option to play games offline, which means that we would be able to use our consoles even if the internet was down or we couldn't stream games on our current speed. Unfortunately, Stadia lacks this option, and as a result, many consumers will likely look past it since increasing internet plans or moving to areas with better speeds just to get better stream performance isn't something that many gamers are likely to do.
With Project xCloud, Microsoft may have already rendered the Google Stadia redundant and obsolete. Being able to turn the new Xbox into a streaming server already adds to its value, and considering how popular it'll be once it releases, it's likely to be in far more households than Google can reach. Plus, even if streaming games is unfeasible, the Xbox will still give us more ownership over our games and a way to play regardless of our internet status.
To be fair, though, Google isn't a new company trying to cram its way into the crowded gaming market. It is already a massive company in its own right, with billions of dollars to throw at a potentially lucrative endeavor like the Stadia. However, can it be trusted to stick with it if it doesn't immediately start raking in cash? Will it be willing to tough it out, and continue working on making the Stadia a better option for gamers?
Well, let's put it this way: whatever happened to Google Glass, one of its many pieces of innovative future tech? That's right, it was dead in the water. So, even if you don't think Microsoft's Xbox Scarlett and Project xCloud are the future of game streaming, they're more likely to be around after two years, whereas Google might be looking to bury the Stadia if it isn't as popular as it wants it to be.