When I was in high school I knew a guy named Kiernan. He was a great dude and still is to this day. He was quite social (if a little awkward), on the whole a respectable man. But the one thing that always annoyed me about him was his god-like internet speed.
He would wait only fifteen minutes for a massive 10gb GTA V patch to download then message me to ask if I wanted to join his lobby. I would begrudgingly reply that I couldn’t join him because it would be another twenty hours before I finished downloading the same file. I think I was correct to be so frustrated by this and it still pains me to this day.
So when I saw Google announce ‘Google Stadia’ I immediately thought of Kiernan, as he would be the only person that could use this platform in Australia.
For those who missed the announcement, Google revealed they have been working on a large scale video game project entitled ‘Google Stadia’, a streamable Netflix-like service. The general idea is that if you saw a game that fell under the subscription, you could immediately start streaming and playing the game with no disc or digital copy required, only an internet connection.
It sounds like a wonderfully natural progression from cartridges, to discs, to digital and now full streaming. It’s quite similar to how music listening has changed in recent years, but just as how Spotify has changed the music industry, this latest Google experiment may have a bunch of unintended problems.
The biggest problem for us Aussies is our terrible terrible internet. I cannot stress how horrible our internet is, in fact, I’ll do it again. I cannot stress how horrible our internet is. Even though our national average download speed is estimated to be 25mbs (supposedly fast enough to use Google Stadia at full capacity) anyone who’s ever grown up in suburbia would be able to tell you how ridiculous that sounds. Because maybe you do get those speeds or even higher on occasion, but as soon as multiple devices need Wi-Fi, that same bandwidth chugs down to half that speed or lower. Thanks again NBN, you really did well.
Stadia’s chances in Australia rely on a fast internet connection and I’ll be real with you, that’s not a good thing. Latency and screen tearing concerns have already popped up in its early test footage during the announcement, and that’s at the recommended speed. If there is any sort of input lag or low frame rate during use, many will turn off the service. Janky controls and choppy gameplay is the bane of every gamer’s experience. These fears unsurprisingly raised alarm bells on Twitter, and Google’s nervousness to even suggest at pricing for this is not helping at all.
I can see this all going so wrong for Google but I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want this to fail.
Phil Harrison, leader for the Stadia, stated that “This new generation of gaming is not a box” and I fully agree. Most games are played on phones and tablets, why not try to create a middle ground between PC/console experiences with the ease of accessibly of an app on your phone? It sounds good…almost too good to be true.
I’m scared that for those who can use this service properly (a.k.a. the Kiernans of this world) it’s going to go the same way Google+ and Google Glass did. Cancelled before it could even take off.
Google has a nasty habit of stopping projects which at one time showed a lot of promise. But unlike other companies, they can scrap the project without much trouble. The company might lose some money in the short term, but it would just be a drop in the pool of Scrooge McDuck money they make on a daily basis.
Hopefully, they can figure out early issues sooner than later, because in the time between this article being written and going up online Apple may announce a gaming subscription service as well. And with Amazon probably jumping in the market around 2020, it seems like Google needs to get it’s act together and not shelve this one.
Hey Google, here’s a great idea for you, put Google Fiber in Australian cities like your pal Elon Musk did with that Adelaide battery. Even better, do it for free! I mean when you think about it’s a win-win, you get to bring more people online to use Stadia and I get download speeds that allow me to stream Youtube in HD without my sister yelling at me for “taking up all the internet”.
And if Kiernan’s reading this, yes I’d be happy to try out Stadia when you inevitably buy it. Just try not to act so smug about it.