Anyone that has heard about Google Stadia knows that it is an ambitious, overwhelming undertaking that could potentially revolutionize how video games are both played and developed. For those that haven’t heard yet, Google Stadia is looking to bring about the age of cloud gaming. The idea is that Google will establish data centers that do pretty much everything consoles do right now. These data centers will take care of processing. They’ll store the data for games. They’ll even provide stable and predictable internet connections for multiplayer games.
In other words, you, as a player, will no longer have to worry about whether or not you own the right piece of hardware. Xbox, Playstation, a suitable PC, mobile; your hardware won’t matter, with Google Stadia you could potentially play any video game on any device. The specifications of your device would be mostly irrelevant, as Google’s data centers take care of nearly all of the processing for the game to run.
It would even be very beneficial for game developers. With today’s game market, developers are forced to gear their game towards the specifications of the device it is being released on. The graphics can only look as good as an Xbox or a Playstation allows, among other things. In this way the imagination of a developer is limited by what a console allows them to do. With Google Stadia, said imagination would only be limited to what Google’s data centers could support, and with their funding and technology there’s no doubt that those limits would be far greater than most individual hardware.
This of course sounds fantastic (if a little far-fetched), but the idea isn’t without its fair share of issues. For one, there will naturally be a lot of push back from game publishers that make their money primarily from consoles. It’s difficult to imagine Sony being too excited about Google Stadia, when it could potentially make the Playstation obsolete. The same could be said of Nintendo or other game publishers, but there’s always the possibility that they might try to strike a deal with Google instead.
Of course, there is another potential issue that doesn’t really have anything to do with gaming at all, and it has to do with the amount of power it is going to take to supply these data centers Google will need for Stadia. There’s no denying that a great deal of electric power will be needed for this kind of undertaking, and how that power is supplied could have serious ramifications on the environment. As things stand now, Google is heavily committed to renewable energy, and they often try their best to use green energy as they create new facilities.
But that commitment could change at any time, and any competitors that rise to meet Google are in no way required to build their data processing centers with clean energy in mind. It may seem strange to bring up the health of the ecosystem in regards to the future of video games, but there’s simply no denying that the potential impact is there.