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  • Talk of console wars has dominated video games for years.

  • There are gamers who swear by the benefits of gaming in front of a keyboard

  • and mouse on a custom built P.C.,

  • while others prefer the convenience and ubiquity of consoles like the Xbox

  • and PlayStation. Those console brands in particular have built a name for

  • themselves as powerhouses in the world of convenient at-home gaming.

  • Microsoft sold 30 million units of the Xbox One console between its release

  • and November 2013 and the end of 2017.

  • Sony sold 73 million units of the PlayStation 4 console and that same time

  • period. Video games are a big business in 2018.

  • Video games and EA Sports generated about $24.4

  • billion in revenue about $2 dollars higher than 2017.

  • The industry is expected to hit $31 billion by 2023, but at the same time,

  • console sales are falling.

  • Console sales were forecast to decline by 12 percent in 2019 compared to the

  • year before. But there's a new player in the game: streaming video game

  • platforms. The reason that streaming is appealing to consumers in a vacuum

  • is that it obviates the need to purchase a console.

  • You could play from anywhere, on any device, at any time and you don't need

  • to worry about your hardware becoming obsolete.

  • Google's Stadia, Microsoft's Project xCloud and Nvidia's GeForceNow make it

  • easy to play top tier games without the top tier console or p.c.

  • The subscription -based services stream video games from high -end gaming

  • machines through the cloud, and that means the future of video games may no

  • longer need the console.

  • Video games are a phenomenon that have largely taken shape over the last 50

  • years. Arcades and at -home consoles launched in the early 1970s and quickly

  • flourished into a booming industry.

  • Magnavox presents Odyssey The Electronic Game of the Future.

  • The Atari video computer system is 20 cartridges with 1300 game variations

  • you play on your own TV set.

  • But those really were the only options for gaming in the beginning, at least

  • until the personal computer became popular.

  • The p.c brought with it a new way to play with friends too.

  • As the advent of the internet meant more and more people were hopping

  • online, but consoles weren't there yet.

  • It's largely the famed release of the PlayStation 2 in 2000 and the original

  • Xbox in 2001 that brought console gaming into the form we know today.

  • Those consoles were praised at the time for their breadth of content and

  • specs and largely saw rave reviews.

  • But the feature that was arguably the most ambitious for these consoles was

  • their internet connectivity.

  • The original iteration of the PlayStation 2 didn't come with Internet

  • connectivity built in.

  • It was sold as a separate accessory.

  • But the original Xbox did, and both Sony and Microsoft launched online

  • services for these consoles about a year after their release, Sony's online

  • connectivity was limited and largely relied on individual game makers to

  • facilitate the servers for those games, much like how PC gaming works.

  • But X-Box launched a whole new subscription model as a way to manage online

  • gaming. Xbox Live.

  • Xbox's subscription service facilitated online gaming of legendary titles

  • like Halo 2 and created a cultural phenomenon of playing with anyone, at any

  • time, around the world.

  • There were a couple of caveats to online play, though.

  • The first was that you had to have a fast enough Internet connection, and

  • the second was the requirement that the person you were playing with had the

  • same console as you, regardless of whether the game was available on

  • multiple platforms.

  • This lack of cross-platform play ability has been a problem in the gaming

  • industry for years.

  • Even as the new generation of consoles were released, the Xbox 360 and

  • PlayStation 3 came with exclusive games that would only be played on their

  • platform and on their servers.

  • It suddenly became important which console you had in which your friends

  • were playing on. The PlayStation 3 came with the new PlayStation Network, a

  • free platform that allowed users to get online with an optional premium

  • PlayStation Plus that gave users special perks and discounts.

  • And massively successful video games like Grand Theft Auto Online had tens

  • of millions of players around the world who only saw fellow players on the

  • same console. But fast forward to 2020 and the sentiment of the walled

  • garden of online gaming is starting to change.

  • Games like Fortnight, Rocket League and Call of Duty Modern Warfare have

  • done away with this and allowed anyone with any console to play each other.

  • And these games have been massively successful.

  • As of March 2019, Fortnite has 250 million people logging in to play with

  • others. Suddenly consoles are becoming less and less important.

  • Performance on both the Xbox and the PlayStation is solid and more games are

  • starting to allow you to game with others regardless of what you're playing

  • on. So is there a need for consoles anymore?

  • They know consoles are going away.

  • They know that streaming in 20 years is going to be so ubiquitous that

  • you're just not going to need a console.

  • Gamers have been wanting to take their video games with them for years and

  • console makers are starting to provide services like PlayStation Now and

  • Xbox Play Anywhere, stream your consoles games to a screen of your choice.

  • But these have been imperfect solutions that still rely on you to shell out

  • the cash for a console to begin with, OnLive and GeForce Now changed that.

  • And they were the first real streaming services for games that used offsite

  • company, owned hardware to deliver games to users.

  • And now Google Stadia has entered the mix and promised 4K gaming over the

  • internet entirely on Google's servers.

  • All you need is an account, a screen and a controller.

  • Stadia even has a selection of games.

  • It includes in its paid subscription for $9.99

  • a month. If you go with the free version, you'll have to buy the games

  • yourself. Microsoft has also started planning its foray into the streaming

  • game wars Project xCloud is meant to take on Google's directly, streaming

  • games from Microsoft's own cloud computing infrastructure.

  • And really, it makes sense that these are the two big players in the

  • streaming gaming industry right now.

  • Google and Microsoft are responsible for a combined 19.5

  • percent of cloud infrastructure services in twenty eighteen.

  • Microsoft Azure is 15.5

  • percent of that. Combine that with Microsoft's mastery of gaming with its

  • Xbox platform, and the company stands a real chance to take hold of the

  • streaming video game industry.

  • Delivering a seamless streaming experience really is a function of data

  • centers more than anything.

  • I mean, the technology knowing that Gaikai and OnLive, had the technology 10

  • years ago and it was not perfect, but it worked.

  • And here we are 10 years later.

  • You know, E.A.'s doing it on mobile phones.

  • I mean, I've seen it and E.A.

  • is, you know, a small T tech company, unlike Amazon, Apple, Google,

  • Microsoft, Sony are bigger T tech companies.

  • In short, these companies could drive people to streaming instead of to the

  • store to buy a console.

  • So what does all of this new tech mean for the future of consoles?

  • Can Stadia really replace them?

  • So Stadia has been a great idea.

  • It's been a lot of fun to play at home, but I've noticed in the community,

  • especially on Reddit, people are upset about a bunch of things, whether it's

  • a lack of updates or a lack of games.

  • Stadia is not necessarily a concern for Microsoft or Sony, who've now

  • announced Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

  • Xbox Series X seems like it's going to be more of a service in addition to a

  • console, so might see xCloud built out into that.

  • Or maybe console owners get access to streaming video games or just people

  • can go out and buy a streaming subscription from Microsoft.

  • Microsoft is banking on the future of streaming games with its project

  • xCloud. But in this first iteration, there are just too many opportunities

  • for streaming to go wrong, particularly when gaming on the go.

  • At times, playing on 4G LTE meant frozen screens, choppy audio and controls

  • having a mind of their own and Stadia itself isn't ready to fully take on

  • video game consoles. You need one of Google's latest smartphones to play on

  • the go or a computer running Chrome if you want to play at home.

  • Some of these problems are growing pains for any new service, but others are

  • out of any one company's hand.

  • So what needs to change?

  • 5G could be the linchpin in making a service like this work.

  • The increased speed and throughput could mean even users in a crowded city

  • could see lag -free gaming.

  • In urban areas like cities, you have wireless carriers launching what's

  • called millimeter wave 5G and that's about 10 times faster than 4G LTE.

  • There's also this sub-six gigahertz 5G, which isn't much faster than 4G LTE.

  • So what you really need is more areas with the millimeter wave 5G so that

  • people with Stadia can play games with fast enough speeds to connect online

  • and stream all these graphics.

  • But 5G is only available in select locations by most providers in the U.S.,

  • with them promising to expand in 2020.

  • And that technology, too, is in its early stages.

  • Some early testing of 5G has found that speeds are largely dependent on how

  • close you are to the tower or if you have a clear line of sight and more.

  • The solution for 5G is put a tower on every single streetlight, which means

  • the real estate's there, power supply is there and it doesn't go through the

  • glass so we're all going to have to have some kind of router that has an

  • external receiver and suddenly everybody's going to have internet everywhere

  • and super high speed.

  • That's the best thing that could happen to any content owners who wants to

  • distribute their content. Then there's the service itself, which only has a

  • handful of games to play.

  • Google has announced that it will add 120 titles to its service in 2020, but

  • until these games are available, there could be little incentive for people

  • to take the service seriously.

  • And that really is what could make or break a streaming service like this.

  • The more people that join, the more people there are for companies to cater

  • to and more players to interact with.

  • This is where a service like Google Stadia could live or die.

  • Google is known for how readily it will kill a service if it's unpopular.

  • So one of my biggest fears with Stadia still remains, and that's that Google

  • has canceled dozens of products in the past that they don't take off decides

  • that just no longer interested in the market.

  • And I think Google could still potentially do that with Stadia one day.

  • People don't buy it, they could just say, 'OK, we're ending the service, it

  • was a fun run' and maybe licensed the technology to other companies instead

  • of fully supporting it itself.

  • Plus, other companies have different solutions for how to game anywhere.

  • Take Nintendo's Switch console.

  • Which gives you the ability to take the same console you play at home with

  • you on the go. Or the growth of the video game industry on mobile devices.

  • A study from Activision-Blizzard and Newzoo, you found that 2.4

  • billion people would play a mobile game in 2019.

  • That study found that one in two apps open in the seven day period were

  • games. This might not be enough to end consoles altogether in the near

  • future, but there are more and more ways to get your gaming fix without

  • buying one. There's a portion of the population who will just never buy a

  • console, but it doesn't mean consoles go away.

  • If Microsoft and Sony make that a really good experience, they're going to

  • have a really faithful group of consumers who will support their consoles.

  • I just think each console generation gets smaller.

  • And what I can't predict is what these consoles will do for me other than

  • play games.

Talk of console wars has dominated video games for years.

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Can Google Stadia Compete With Video Game Consoles?

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/27
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