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Google Bets Its Chrome-Based Cloud Gaming Service Will Change the Game

Google Stadia is mainstreaming the “everything-as-a-service” model already familiar to many consumers and businesses. As such, it is a frontal assault on one of the last bastions of traditional software distribution.

Stadia, which will launch in 2019, is a cloud gaming service that Google says will offer a seamless gaming experience in its Chrome browser. Spread across 7500+ edge nodes to minimize latency, Stadia uses custom ARM hardware to deliver high-end performance (Google promises 10.7 teraflops of power, delivering 4k 60fps experiences to gamers now, and up to 8k, 120fps in the future) straight to any browser window.

Stadia is technically impressive and it could make this sort of gaming even more accessible. Chromebook owners know that AAA titles have system requirements that far outstrip their machines’ meagre capabilities. Try playing Battlefront II on your Asus Chromebook Flip (you can’t). Many older Windows machines would struggle, and the game selection on MacOS is notoriously limited as well.

More than the technology, it is the model that’s compelling. For many years, consumers bought physical cartridges or disks; in the aughts they moved towards downloads and web clients (think World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or League of Legends, along with the online game stores like Steam or GoG). Google wants to accelerate the transition to cloud gaming, a new distribution paradigm that could have important downstream effects.

Our Take

Google Stadia is not in itself transformative for enterprise IT, but it is a logical outcome of cloud market trends. Consumerization of corporate IT will continue, and Google’s Stadia is an exciting harbinger of things to come, including a shift in understanding of how things are supposed to work.

Young people who grow up using software that is always updated, available instantly, and that they exercise little if any functional control over (tweaking graphics settings in Stadia is not possible, as an example) are prime SaaS buyers. The cloud is already eating enterprise IT. If gamers get used to top quality, low latency service delivered over the internet, they will come to expect it from their other software vendors.

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