Google’s got game


When news leaked that Google (or Alphabet if you want to be particular) was creating a platform that would enable it to become the Netflix of gaming it was met with a mix of intrigue, excitement, trepidation and indifference. The nostalgia kids of the office were immediately transported back into their brother/sister/cousin/neighbours living room floor where hours were spent guiding a small blue hedgehog and his helicopter-tailed buddy through a labyrinth of mazes, loops and golden rings. Was there any better feeling than slapping your first-placed friend with a green shell right before the finish line?

*raises hand*

You, yes you with the hand in the air!

“No, no sir there was not!”

Mario Kart gif.gif

Since those heady days gaming has taken on a whole new meaning; graphics are near movie quality, consoles cost the same as a small car, and movie stars are cast as lead characters – so the idea that we could soon be able to access almost unlimited games from any device at any time sounds like you’ve just proved the existence of leprechauns and their pot of gold.

Google cast its all-seeing eyes over the $140bn industry and inherently called out its major flaws – cross platform integration and cost. Stadia promises to eradicate both of these, albeit as long as your internet speed can keep up. It’s a bold but obvious move for Google when you note it certainly has the data, and servers, to back it up – right now, Google gets over 200 million active users logging on every day to look at gaming content. Youtube has over 50bn watched hours of gaming video content. That’s a massive audience to feed your related ads to.

To feed the beast, Google is reliant on the users themselves to create the content and upload directly to their own accounts, then share with the wider network. Sony and Microsoft (current kings of console gaming) have already embarked on their own cloud based gaming adventures, meaning the big G could be losing hours of content to its competitors. Identifying this external gap between recording and uploading, Google has decided to tackle the problem head on by launching Stadia – which will have a streamlined process for sharing your best bits (stop that) to YouTube and the Google network. This becomes a self-serving cycle, with YouTube returning the traffic to Stadia through suggestions, ads and content.

As of yet, die-hard gamers have yet to be blown away by what they’ve seen. Fears over lag times and processing power as well as an apparent lack of lead titles haven’t got them ear-marking their direct debit columns just yet, but with every passing day and announcement it becomes apparent that this is much more than a race to be the first (which was the downfall of Google Glass) but a race to be the best. What we’ll be keeping an eye on is the marketing eco-system which comes with the prowess of Stadia’s mother brand. The platform boasts access for gamers through VR, mobile and in-home; so we’re sure to see big activations in major cities and conferences across the world.

Game-changer? Game on.

- GC

Gavin Coffey