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Gaming companies launch streaming platforms indicating a change in the industry

The immersive battles in the world of video games will now be heading to the cloud as the gaming industry is now switching to streaming services. The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles will be hosting blockbuster gaming titles but the more important question is how will users play these super rich games.

The gaming sector generated last year 135 billion US dollars out of which 43.4 billion was in United States. As per Entertainment Software Association, 164 million people play video games in the United States, and there is a video game player in three out of four households in America.

Major internet giant Google will be launching a video game streaming service named Stadia in 14 nations in the coming November. It will be selling a “founders edition bundle”, a hardware combo pack for 129 US dollars along with a monthly subscription fee of 9.99 US dollars. The price in Europe will be 129 euros and 9.99 euros per month respectively. The subscribers can play free games as well as buy titles. Shooter game Destiny 2 will be the first freely available title for download from developer Bungie. Hit games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Ghost Recon Breakpoint from Ubisoft will also be available for purchase. Google CEO Sundar Pichai commented that the main motive of Stadia is to provide a gaming platform for everyone.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has started testing its game streaming technology, Project xCloud through its employees. Microsoft has set the vision for letting people play Xbox games with their desired people on the devices users are most comfortable in. It has also updated several of its Azure datacentres in Asia, Europe and North America for synchronizing with xCloud. As per Microsoft, there are nearly 1900 games that are currently in development for its Xbox One, all of which can also run in its upcoming Project xCloud.

Another gaming giant Sony started its PlayStation Now service five years ago which allowed games to be streamed in its consoles or Windows-powered computers. It also allows users to download games to their PlayStation 4 devices. Sony along with its rival Microsoft will be using the Azure cloud platform for supporting gaming and digital content streaming. Chief Executive of Sony Kenichiro Yoshida said that their mission is to evolve the PlayStation platform into a platform through which players can experience top-notch gaming entertainment irrespective of time and place.

Apple will also be launching their own service Arcade where 100 titles will be available initially in the debut. It will allow smooth gaming experience across all Apple devices according to its website.

With all these companies launching game streaming platforms, it will be interesting which one catches the attention of the maximum number of users.

Google Stadia announcement at GDC

Google showcases its cloud based gaming platform Stadia

During the school days, we have always have played games on our play stations during the summer vacations or on holidays. As technology advances, now there are various other gaming boxes which are available in the market. But gaming boxes also have their own limitations. A technology has been showcased by Google called “Google Stadia”.

This new product was unveiled by Google at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). However not much is known about the product since it is still in the development stage.

There are certain details that are provided to us for example- The game is available on YouTube and Chrome. YouTube is one of the major platforms through which “Google Stadia” will get publicized. The various gaming experts can recommend their viewers to search for this new product and the viewers would be able to find the various games on YouTube. As YouTube and Chrome are to be used for gaming and streaming, it clearly indicates that this product has been developed for the YouTube generation.

Chrome as well plays a very important role in order to promote this new member of the Google family. “Stadia” would be available to play on Google Chrome, Chromecast and on all Android devices. Google has already demonstrated this service on their devices during the keynote. However, it is pretty unclear as to on how many browsers would this be available.

Google is using Linux as its operating system and the disadvantage that it provides is that game creators will have to upload new games on “Stadia” for Linux platform, and not any game that you own on different gaming portal. In the GDC, Google only showed certain games, it failed to answer certain questions like when it will be launched, will this be subscription based and many more.

The biggest question that Google has to answer is the internet connectivity that “Stadia” requires to play different games. Currently, Google is using its own compression technology to stream games in 1080p or 4K to devices. However, in order to access “Stadia” the most active and reliable internet connection would be required. According to Google, a connection of  “approximately 25 Mbps” for 1080p resolution at 60 fps will be required.

In an interview with Kotaku, Google Stadia boss Phil Harrison said, “We will be able to get to 4K, only if we raise the bandwidth to about 30 Mbps.” However, we don’t know the exact bitrates of Stadia just yet, but watching a regular HD Netflix stream uses around 3GB per hour, and this more than doubles for 4K streams.

Google Stadia Controller

Google Stadia Controller (Source: 9to5google.com)

The biggest advantage that Google has is due to its cloud infrastructure, but if you are not present in the area where the data center is located, then you’ll not get the most ideal experience. In order to play these games, Google is launching its own “Stadia Controller” which will be connected directly to the server you’re playing on over Wi-Fi, but it has no control over the thousands of ISPs and how they route this traffic to its data centers.

All of this makes Stadia look like an early beta for what will be a part of the future of gaming. Google has hired a lot of industry talents for this ambitious project. Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft executive, is leading the Stadia project, and Jade Raymond, who has previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft, is heading up the company’s first-party games. Xbox Live Arcade creator Greg Canessa is also working on Stadia, alongside former Xbox gaming partnerships lead Nate Ahearn. All of this experience should help Google in its cloud gaming fight.