The gaming industry is booming. In fact, video games are now so popular that globally the market was worth around $135 billion (£102 billion) in 2018. Google is well aware of this and wants a piece of the action.
In fact, Google already has a piece of the action - it has YouTube which is incredibly successfull as a place for gamers to show of their skills, as well as somwhere to watch guides, walk throughs, reviews and so on. Google also has the Android gaming platform, with plenty of games being downloaded from the Play Store each day. Sounds like a good business model already doesn't it? Google however clearly wants an even bigger share in this multi-billion dollar industry, as just last week it has announced a new gaming platform - Google Stadia.
What is Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is Google's brand new gaming platform, that they're hoping will compete with rivals such as Sony's Playstation and Microsoft's Xbox, and even the PC gaming market. It differs from a traditional gaming console in that while the control pad looks pretty "normal", you do not need to purchase an expensive console to play the latest games. In fact, Stadia will work with many existing desktop computers and laptops, TVs, phones and even certain models of the company's popular Chromecast streaming device. This is all possible because the games do not run in your own home or on your own device as they would traditionally, but elsewhere, on Google's own high end hardware that it will update regularly. The picture you see on your TV or other device is nothing more than a video stream of the game.
With its new platform, Google is hoping to lean on its success with YouTube that it already has among the gaming community, and during a demonstration at its announcement, the firm demonstrated how a gamer could be watching a video on YouTube before pressing a "play on Stadia" button with the title launching and becoming playable in just a few seconds.
"Hundreds of millions of people watch gaming content on YouTube every single day. Our vision is to bring those worlds closer together," said Phil Harrison, Google's new head of gaming.
While in theory Google Stadia sounds fantasic and potentially something that could mark a shift away from tradtional home consoles and PCs, this type of technology isn't without its critics, and there are still a lot of unknowns about Google's service, such as the price and available games.
Gamers and industry experts are excited to try the new platform but are urging caution when it comes to this type of technology, as similar attempts in the past have been hampered by "lag" - the game's time delay between controller input and action on the screen. This is particularly important in popular online games such as first person shooters, where even a small increase in lag can make the game very difficult to play. Google is keen to point out that it has clever algorithms and compression in place that will enable Stadia to run even on internet connections that aren't the fastest available, but in truth we'll probably know more about how well this will work once the platform has launched later this year.
There's also the issue of price and the games that will be available on the service. In terms of price, we still have no idea how much this is going to cost or even how the service will work. Will Google pitch a sort of "Netflix for games", where you'll need a monthly subscription in order to access content, or will you still need to purchase games separately? We'll have to wait and see and of course this could make a massive difference to the popularity of the service.
What do Viewsbank members think of Google Stadia?
In last week's Omnibus survey, we put a series of questions to our members relating to their gaming habits and Google Stadia in general. Of 1,047 people who took the survey 66% of those members currently play some form of video games, with 75% of those members who do playing for 2 hours or more, so just the type of people Google are going to be targeting with their new platform.
Rather surprisingly just 17% of gamers surveyed said they would either "probably" or "definitely" be interested in Stadia. However, rather more telling is that a further 49% of gamers have indicated that they are "maybe" interested in the new platform, showing that while Google clearly has something that has caught their attention, they're going to have pull out all the stops to convince them it's worth parting with their hard earned cash for. Of course, pricing could be a big determining factor, and a lot of the "maybe" people could be swayed either way once that is announced further down the line.
We then asked our members who indicated that they were either "probably" or "definitely" interested in the new service why they thought this type of platform might be better than current ways to game - here's what a few of them said:
"If they have solved the latency problem it will be much simpler to access as all processing is done in the cloud and all that is needed is a controller and internet enabled tv."
"The games would be available to play instantly with no downloads."
"What Google is trying to do is amazing, they want people to connect and interact more, this feature to the new gaming system is what get me excited for it's release. Just being able to stream and have people watching you join your game is incredible to me."
On the flipside of the argument, we also asked those who said they were either "probably not" or "definitely not" interested why this was the case:
"I prefer to play games that have been installed locally and are without the need of an internet connection to play them."
"I prefer playing games on my own computer where streaming latency isn't an issue."
"Because it's just a way to keep the money flowing and for them to spy on you even more than they already do and make more money from you. I like to pay for a product - say a console or a game, that is mine to keep, not keep on paying over and over and over again!"
What do you think of Google's new Stadia platform? Let us know in the comments below.