If you’ve been on any website at all today, including Sesamestreet.com, then you’ve already read the news: Google unveiled Stadia, their ambitious plans to get into the video game business, this morning.
Some people speculated it was going to be a console, which means they barely know Google at all — it was obviously going to be the next phase in the “cloud computing” business, something that would play to their wireless strengths and require you to use as many of their products as possible. Not a console, but a service, and one that could run from any machine. Even from the browser you’re using to read these words.
The plan has many visible flaws. Massive sections of the country, and much of the developed world, do not have the speeds required to get this much data per second — and the monopolistic state of broadband internet at the moment will charge them through the nose if they do.
A game is not a movie. You can get away with the resolution suddenly, temporarily cutting down to 240p on Netflix, because the distortion does not actively prevent you from experiencing the film. But a game? In today’s competitive action titles, it has to be running at max always.
No latency is excusable. If it’s not constantly at 60FPS, that means the difference between taking someone out and getting taken out yourself. Google also said something about Stadia being “hack-proof” and “cheat-proof,” which was their biggest laugh of the day. Cheaters will find a way. Modders, however, will be massively disappointed.
But Google is so big and loud that if they push this new service REALLY HARD and MASH the ads into our faces this Christmas, it can’t fail! Right? Worked wonders for Google Glass.
You might remember when Netflix announced they were doing away with DVD rentals. There was a massive public “BOOOOOOOOOO” in their direction. Then they said “Okay, we won’t get rid of the DVD rentals, but we’ll spin them off into a different company called Quikster.” And the BOOOOOOOOOOs continued, until finally they said “forget it, you want DVD rentals, we’ll still do them.”
Then the future Netflix was trying to force happened anyway, and no one noticed.
The point is that the public will inevitably adopt these technologies, but ONLY WHEN it comes natural to them. You may know the future, but you can’t drag it toward us any more than you can control the flow of time. Neither Netflix nor Google nor any other tech giant can force America to suddenly shift to an all-streaming lifestyle.
Someday there will be a Google Stadia; it just may not be this one.