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4 big questions we still have about Google’s Stadia

Lofty promises sound good, but...

stadia platforms tv, phone gdc 2019 Google

Google Stadia, a streaming service that lets players enjoy modern games on low-end devices, is a play for the future of video game entertainment. Imagine a world where your gaming experiences aren’t restricted by your hardware; a world where you can hop straight into a game just by clicking a link. It sounds almost too good to be true, no? Naturally, we’ve got questions.

What will Google Stadia cost?

Everything about Stadia upends the way games are traditionally bought and sold. If you stream what you play, do you own the games or rent them? If you’re not buying any hardware, do pay for a service? Will it be more of a subscription or a one-time fee sort of deal? What’s the price-point for the controller? What happens to Stadia games after developers stop supporting it? We don’t know anything about the economics of Stadia right now. We just know that the streaming service will release later this year.

For comparison sake: Game Pass, a Microsoft subscription that gives you access to dozens of game titles, costs $9.99 a month — though you do need special hardware to enjoy it. Will Stadia’s price point be competitive with services like Game Pass?

What kind of internet connection do you need?

Hardware may not be a question here, but there are still potential logistical problems depending on internet requirements. Will people in rural areas, without speedy internet connections, be able to enjoy Stadia? Will the internet speed requirements be too hefty for the average person? How taxing will Stadia be on our ISPs — will they have reason to throttle performance, for instance? The fact that even the controller is wireless introduces the possibility for lag, which is why Stadia’s promises seem so lofty. All of these unknowns may make or break whether or not Stadia has long-term potential.

stadia platforms

What games will be on the Stadia?

Much of what Google spoke about in its GDC keynote dealt with the possibilities of a service, but in terms of confirmed experiences, we’ve got very little to go on. Obviously, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will be a part of the offerings — they’ve already shown that off. Otherwise, the only other games we know about are Doom Eternal, an unannounced title by Q-Games, and possibly something by Tequila Works? It’s also hard to tell what other game developers will allow on the platform, especially given that Stadia may be seen as the competition. Microsoft doesn’t seem precious about where their games end up, but what about Sony and Nintendo? Will it be difficult to port games to Stadia, given all the fancy bells and whistles?

While we know that Google has been investing in its own games division, and will likely be developing exclusive experiences for Stadia, right now there aren’t that many specific things to get excited about.

How will Google handle Stadia’s YouTube integration?

Many of Stadia’s ambitions are tied to YouTube, a platform that routinely receives negative coverage over its bad actors. Stadia will allow viewers more access to their favorite creators, which raises the question: who will be allowed to use it? What sorts of channels will the platform recommend when players look up walkthroughs? Will the platform use YouTube differently if it involves games for younger kids?

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