Coverage: Google wants to take on the gaming industry
Google now seeks to take a stab at revolutionizing the $100+ billion gaming industry currently dominated by incumbents like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
Todd Haselton of CNBC.com had the news:
As Google seeks to diversify its revenue sources beyond digital ads, gaming presents a massive opportunity for the company.
But Google appears poised to take a different approach when it presents its vision for the “future of gaming” during its Game Developers Conference (GDC) presentation on Tuesday in San Francisco. That likely includes a commercial version of its “Project Stream” service and its rumored “Yeti” gaming console, both of which could realize the ultimate dream of a “Netflix for video games” streaming service.
Right now, if you want to play a hit game, you usually need to spend a few hundred bucks on a console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One or a good $1,000 or so on a high-end gaming PC. Then, you either need to go to the store and buy a physical game disc or wait for a large file to download to your console, which can take hours.
Google’s streaming service could change that model by letting users stream top games to the devices they already own, like a laptop, smartphone or streaming box connected to a TV.
Nick Statt of The Verge reported that it likely involves cloud gaming:
In teasing its GDC keynote, Google said it would unveil its “vision for the future of gaming.” And, going off numerous previous reports and public showings from the company itself, it’s highly likely the announcement involves a full-fledged cloud gaming service. More than a year ago, The Information first reported about Google’s Project Yeti, the codename for an internal division responsible for building a next-generation streaming service similar to existing but limited options like Sony’s PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now.
Even before Sony and Nvidia’s services existed, cloud gaming had been a bit like the industry’s holy grail: a just-out-of-reach ideal that has preoccupied a number of startups like OnLive, Gaikai, and others, but that’s never been cracked because the infrastructure and economics haven’t been properly worked out.
The concept is relatively simple. What if, like Netflix and Spotify, you could not only digitally distribute games, but also stream them over the internet, so players wouldn’t need expensive hardware to play graphically-intensive titles? It’s difficult because games, unlike other forms of media, are both incredibly large in size and require real-time input from players. But it is doable, by wiring up the necessary hardware in a data center, running the game on a remote machine, and sending the video and receiving player commands over the internet.
Christopher Groux of Newsweek reported that there are other major players in cloud gaming:
Google will likely make waves with its streaming tech at GDC,, but there are several other major companies eager to dominate the space. Here are just a few contenders.
- Microsoft Project xCloud: The minds behind Xbox have been vocal about their support for game streaming, and they already have the subscription Game Pass games library to support it. In fact, rumors suggest there may be a dirt cheap version of the next Xbox designed purely as a streaming hub.
- PlayStation Now: Sony has been offering game streaming for years via its PlayStation Now service. For as much as $99 per year, users on PS4 and PC have access to a library of more than 750 PS4, PS3 and PS2 titles. As Microsoft steps up its game, Sony’s offering will only become more important.
- Amazon: While details are scarce, a report from The Information suggests Amazon could launch its own game streaming platform as early as next year.
- Verizon Gaming: Verizon is currently testing a service called Verizon Gaming on Nvidia Shield devices with plans for an Android offering soon. The service features 135 games, but is so new that it doesn’t even feature save functionality.
- EA: Electronic Arts is also dipping its toes in the water with Project Atlas, a vague game streaming platform featuring titles from the major publisher. EA already has a subscription model with its Origin Access service, so it’d be easy to migrate that to streaming. It’s just one example of how large publishers might soon sell their games.