Google's Stadia - A Blessing or a Curse?

March 20, 2019
Google's Stadia - A Blessing or a Curse?

Everyone is hyped after the Stadia announcement and a lot of information was dropped at GDC. So let’s calm down for a moment and be rational on how this can play out.

Investments

No matter how powerful your PC is or what console you have, every few years you drop a few hundred (or thousand, I don’t judge) dollars to stay up to gen and never fall under 60 FPS. The games are getting more hardware intense every year and software simply overgrows the available hardware, so new hardware has to be made and then that cycle repeats.

How great would it be if you didn’t have to buy new hardware, instead your friend buys two consoles and just gives you one. You didn’t pay anything, yet you’re still playing the newest games, with great performance, with your friend.

The incredible computing power of Stadia is just that. They promise to keep upgrading it to satisfy both gamers and developers. The developers don’t have to worry about polycounts and what a console can or can’t handle and gamers always have smooth gameplay.

The Specs

stadia_controller

Speaking of smooth gameplay, they also claim that Stadia is more than twice as powerful as current gen consoles.

The announced specs for Stadia are:

-Custom CPU clocked at 2.7Ghz,
-Custom AMD GPU with 56 computing units and an incredible 10.7 TFLOPS,
-16GB of RAM up to 484GB/s bandwidth and it is shared between the CPU and GPU,
-SSD Cloud storage

The GPU seems to be a custom Radeon RX Vega 56 since that is the card with the most similar specs. Not like there is a lot of cards with such specs.

If this doesn’t sound impressive enough, you are not limited to just one “unit”, no, you can actually tap into the stacked power of multiple CPUs and GPUs. Besides the hardware being stackable it is also highly upgradeable. So as soon as something better shows up, you can bet that it will be in Google’s server racks and waiting for you.

The games

What use is an amazing system if it has no games? The only games that we absolutely know that will be available are Assassins Creed: Odyssey and Doom Eternal. Doom is absolutely expected, I mean come on, anything that has a screen has Doom ported to it one way or another. When it comes to developers working with Stadia, obviously we have Ubisoft and Id Software, besides them, Tequila Works and Q-games have been confirmed.

We also know that Google has sent development kits to more than 100 studios around the world. Based on that, we can be sure to hear some more announcements of developers starting projects for Stadia in the following weeks.

Being able to play any game, on any device, anywhere you go, at any time is definitely something we would all enjoy and I’m sure nobody could say anything bad about that. Google is also in my belief the only company that has the infrastructure needed for such a huge undertaking.

Cheating and pirating a thing of the past?

Without access to the game files which are comfortably tucked away, cheating and pirating are almost guaranteed to become forgotten. You would have to breach Google’s security and hack their servers to inject anything into the game or to gain access to the files and let’s be real, that ain’t happening.

Uniting gamers under the same flag

When we talk about the age-old questions console or PC, and Sony or Microsoft, there are a few points that get repeated every generation. Some people prefer a certain gamepad, they enjoy being able to kick back in the couch and play on their TV, some prefer the PC being an all-in-one package, gaming and work, and so on and so on.

Stadia is going to let you play anywhere you want, with any gamepad you want, and every game is going to be a click away no matter the device. The only thing really left to bring a person to a certain console would be exclusive games. However, if a large portion of gamers migrates to Stadia, why would developers make a game for a small group of people left on a specific console and minimize their profits in doing so?

Stadia is a unique opportunity to bring every gamer together, to even out the playing field and make everyone equal, there isn’t going to be a need for cross-play, you’ll already be playing with everyone.

Couch party and tactical gameplay

This is something that really stuck with me and made me a bit nostalgic. I remember back when my best friend would come over and we’d play split-screen on the couch, just relaxing and enjoying a co-op experience (or versus, a lot of 1v1’s have been played on Rust) and I really miss that. At one point it just became unimaginable to have a game render twice and at that point, split-screen became a part of the past. Talking about rendering twice, SWAT 4 gave you the ability to see your teammates screen too in the corner of your own, this opened up a lot of options for coordination with your team and helped with communication.

Stadia has the potential to bring back these things because all of a sudden rendering a game twice isn’t a problem, you just stream multiple screens. I can imagine playing as the commander in Battlefield being a lot more fun if at the same time I can follow a satellite image of the map and open teammates perspectives to know who needs help, what’s happening where and how to direct an attack. Maybe Call of Duty can add a scorestreak where you hack your enemies and see their point of view. An incredible amount of gameplay options open up with being able to see multiple screens during gameplay. Beyond that, obviously, split-screen, give us back split-screen, there is absolutely no excuse to not add split-screen now.

 

There are so many beautiful and amazing possibilities with Stadia. It’s guaranteed to shake-up the industry and make a lasting impact on gaming. So let’s keep our fingers crossed for the best.