Stadia is Google’s foray into the gaming market. Imagine being able to play the latest games releasing, wherever you are, on whatever device you want, with no expensive hardware required, all over the internet. It’s like playing on a console beside your TV, only the console is actually a server at a datacentre somewhere, and all you need to play is a screen and a controller. Neat! No problems here, right? Watch this rundown of Google’s GDC conference.
So it’s on-demand game streaming, giving you access to great games, when you want them, with no expensive game box necessary – but here’s what many people are overlooking; what happens to a game a few years after release? Sure, using Stadia to play the latest FIFA or Call of Duty titles, series that have new versions out every one or two years, is 100% viable. No-one will care that they no longer have access to FIFA 2019 in 2020. Though what happens to games that don’t go through that yearly release cycle? What happens to games that people play for hundreds or thousands of hours? I doubt very much that Google is planning to host every game they bring on their service forever, because of licensing issues or otherwise. It’s like the console gaming problem on steroids.
What happens when Google says “You know what? It isn’t worth it to host this game anymore.”? The quick answer is that you lose access to that game and there’s nothing you can do about it. The service turns out to be a streaming storefront platform, so you buy your games? You’re safe, right? Think again. They could lose the rights to stream that game for any number of reasons, and all the sudden, you lose out. Google won’t care; it’s just a job to them. As long as you keep using their service to play whatever they have, it makes no difference.
We’ve discussed this in the past; if you’re depending on a company’s generosity to do something, if you’re counting on the fact that they will continue to allow you to do what you want to do, you’re going to have a bad time. You’ll always be at the mercy of an external force that doesn’t care about you or your happiness. Google, or any other company, can’t be trusted to continue to host games into the future. Do you expect them to continue hosting Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 2030? If not, why not? It’s certainly a game that people would want to play. If so, why would they? It’s just another game in a sea of games, and customers could just play something else.
Stadia is a great service if you’re the kind of person who likes to play the shit out of the latest games for 15-40 hours as soon as they release, put them down, and never think about them again. However, if you like to go back to old games, or spend hundreds/thousands of hours in a single game, then skip Stadia. If there’s a free version or a subscription version, use those, but, like Spotify when it comes to music, don’t make Stadia your main gaming platform.