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As a gamer, I'm always looking for new things to check out, explore, etc. E3 normally one of those events that pique that curiosity for me every year. There's always a presentation that just has that 'it' factor going for it, whether it's a game, or a console release, or maybe another console competitor altogether. This year, Google decided to make themselves known by unveiling a truly ambitious vision for the future of gaming with the Google Stadia reveal. Console-free, Cloud-based gaming isn't a new idea. Back in the day, a service called OnLive had essentially the same kind of dream; before Google even thought about stepping out into these cloud gaming streets, the folks at OnLive had the bright idea to stream games of all types for a subscription price. Of course, this was in the very infancy of cloud computing, so the dream of cloud gaming was still kind of like an unexplored country of sorts. OnLive's time in the spotlight was short-lived, as the company was eventually bought out by Sony entertainment, but their early foray into the promise of cloud gaming was a glimpse into a truly different direction for gaming.
Fast forward to over a decade later. We're seeing a re-birth to the concept of truly console-free gaming (and some say the return of the spirit of OnLive) with Google's announcement of their ambitious vision for gaming with Google Stadia. Google had already been seriously exploring the idea of streaming and containing games within their cloud infrastructure with the beta program Google Stream prior to Stadia's introduction at E3. Check out the Connect E3 presentation below:
Stadia Connect Presentation
After watching the E3 presentation in its entirety, I gotta say that I'm pretty excited about the potential this concept has. We're essentially talking about enabling high-quality, high-level gaming with nothing more than a controller, a google chrome web browser (or Stadia app), or a Chromecast Ultra for use on televisions of pretty much any size. For folks that love gaming, but don't have the funds to make that high-end PC or to buy the latest console, it could very well change the game. That being said, there are some age-old caveats that come with the concept of gameplay from the cloud that Google still has to address in an effective manner in order for this to really take off with consumers:
- Latency - It's the proverbial boogeyman. The fly in the ointment. The 1100 lb. Gorilla in the room. Latency is essentially the time between when the product is streamed from the servers where the game is rendering to the customer and the speed the customer will be able to react to what's being streamed to them in the game. It's a factor that's plagued any sort of cloud or streaming solution to PCs and console services for decades. Google says that its infrastructure robustness will go a long way to alleviate a lot of those concerns, but it won't be concrete until we actually see the service in action this fall. Google having one of the largest and most solid cloud infrastructures on the planet might go a long way to making this experience a viable one for users eager to see it in person.
- Image quality within games - Google's got some extremely powerful architecture powering this concept. Unfortunately, all of that graphical goodness will need to be compressed before streaming to the customer on such a scale. How Google attacks this potential issue will go a long way to determine what the gaming experience will be like for customers that use the platform.
- Linux - Game Ports, game ports, and more game ports. Will they affect the number of games upon the services' release? Only Google knows.