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Is Google Stadia the end of PC gaming as we know it?

Game streaming vs PC gaming poll  

13 members have voted

  1. 1. Will Google Stadia be a success?

    • Yes
      2
    • No
      11
  2. 2. Will game streaming inevitably make PCs obsolete?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      9


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PC gaming has had its ups and downs and has seen constantly evolving threats over the years. In the early days of PC gaming, piracy was a major concern that represented an existential threat to PC gaming, driving game developers to release on locked down consoles or create complex DRM or activation systems. Later, we had more extreme and frustrating forms of DRM like SecuROM and Games for Windows Live, as well as very poor console ports which made it seem like the PC release was an afterthought. However I believe that since around 2004 - the last 15 years represent a golden age in PC gaming. This includes the rise of Steam and digital distrubtion, the MMO and the MOBA, and creative games like Minecraft and the peak of the Battle Royale genre which all started out on PC.

The way we PC game has remained fundamentally the same this entire time - we build our PCs with motherboards, processors, keyboards and mice, and installed one of the many operating systems. Maybe we experimented with new controller types - a flightstick, an Xbox 360 controller or maybe we immersed ourselves in VR. At one point we bought games using floppy disks or DVDs, these days we buy keys and add games to our Steam accounts. However it seems that at the end of 2019, we are entering a new turning point: the rise of the cloud streamed game, which threatens this entire way we've been playing games on PC.

We have all seen this before with OnLive back in 2010 which didn't garner much interest and was a resolute failure. And there's also PlayStation Now which doesn't really have as much interest as you'd expect with Sony backing it. But the latest effort with Google Stadia is fundamentally different because there is so much more momentum behind it from publishers and developers, and the technology and broadband speeds are there to make it viable for much more people now where it wasn't viable in 2010. When I watched the Google Stadia announcement stream I had a lump in my throat - is this the beginning of the end for PC gaming (and PCGamingWiki?) After all, if games are all streamed, then there's be nothing to fix, right?

This new streaming platform, and others like them, are completely hardware agnostic - Google Stadia can be played just as well on a smartphone or on a high-end PC. If it's successful and becomes mass market, it'll mean developers will shun the PC in favour of Google Stadia, which means that PC gaming may decline and this could be the end of what we know as PC gaming. And yes, we can play Google Stadia games on a PC, but is it PC gaming as we have known it for all these years? And it Google Stadia fails, will xCloud be there to pickup the reins, is streaming technology going to inevitably make PC gaming obsolete? What do you guys think?

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Google Stadia and other streaming platforms are not planned to be instant successes, but are often long-term investment for the next decade or so. Chances are likely that regardless of the success, or lack thereof, of Google Stadia or Microsoft xCloud, PC gaming will remain as it have with minimal changes over the next decade.

We will most likely see cloud based streaming platforms and their consoles supplement existing platforms as more affordable alternatives for some consumers, as the now popular platform subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass, Origin Access, etc have ended up doing.

I imagine we might see a few individual exclusive titles for the streaming platforms over the year, and it is possible that eventually a couple of multiplayer-only titles are only shipped on those platforms, but that's about it I imagine.

The streaming platforms of today as well as tomorrow most likely aren't capable of delivering a full-fledged 4K / 60 FPS or similar experience at a higher visual fidelity due to both software limitations (encoding speed vs. video compression vs. input latency) as well as real-life limitations in terms of distance from data centers.

The technology have moved forward massively, yes, but the platforms are still prone of having video compression artifacts when faced with games with a ton of variations in effects and a more complex visual style than Fortnite. Just the simple matter of having film grain effects in the game is sure to have an overhead in terms of streaming.

So yeah, I don't expect we'll see much change over the next decade beyond that a subset of gamers, most likely of the console gamers audience, will purchase a cheaper streaming-only device and a streaming platform subscription and play their games that way while the core gaming audience will remain with dedicated hardware.

Microsoft's reveal trailer of Project Scarlett (the next Xbox) suggests as much as well, since they wouldn't go all out on the console as they've done if they felt that within the next few years everyone would only be using it as a streaming device for playing games running on their cloud platform.

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My very layman's take on all this is the world is not yet ready for streaming games. Streaming audio and video is something which has been worked on since literally the 1960's (see "The Mother of All Demos") and has come to the rest of the world through Skype, TeamSpeak, Spotify, Netflix, and so on. Streaming fully-interactive content (games) is something that's only really been attempted within the past decade or so.

Since streaming games is so new, there are just too many hiccups to make it work, like data caps, distance from servers as @Aemony mentioned in his post, and so on.

However, once they get it working reliably for the average consumer, I fully anticipate video gaming - not just PC gaming - as we know it will be superseded, if not obsoleted, by streaming, just as audio and video have. 

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Streaming services will be very popular in areas with good internet as long as it provides a "good enough" experience. Those wanting the best experience will still opt for native hardware as usual.

Streaming is out of the question in many parts of the world due to data caps or poor internet speed. Microsoft's combination approach (streaming plus downloads) is much more accessible because it doesn't rely on internet speed or special server hardware. If your internet access is really slow you can buy the Xbox One disc and only download the latest patch. If Xbox Live (or your internet) goes down you can still play single player games just fine.

Xbox Game Pass was available worldwide on day one whereas streaming services will be limited to specific countries. Microsoft's approach also opens up some appealing possibilities that can't exist with Stadia (start streaming a game instantly to see if you like it, then download the native version while you're away from your device).

Project xCloud will probably be publicly available around the time Stadia launches, so Google will be facing immediate competition from a much more established rival.

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Nah. There's just too many hardware developers who have a stake in selling shiny new hardware to general public for this to happen in anything resembling a foreseeable future.

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Won't this affect consoles as well?  Most people only buy consoles to play Call of Battle Theft Madden, exclusives hardly move units at all.  Now that this makes generic multiplats available at the press of a button, without the need of a console, it's no surprise Microsoft and Sony had no choice but to team up.

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This will only work in areas that have extremely high-speed/low-latency Internet. With some of the Internet providers talking caps on data transferred, I foresee problems. 

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Game streaming by itself will probably not be a major issue for data caps, however combined with Netflix they will be. The transfers seems approximately in line with Netflix's 4K option, for example, so people replacing Netflix with game streaming shouldn't notice a major difference in monthly traffic as long as they play and stream at the same quality level that they used to stream Netflix at.

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It's a similar situation with electric cars.  The current electric grid is prone to blacking out without electric cars charging, the problem will only accentuate with more cars requiring a charge.  Heaven be with you if you're in a danger zone and have no way to charge your vehicle.

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