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Google Stadia: Hardware Makers Should Be Worried

If Microsoft and Google are going to let you play Red Dead Redemption 2 on your smart fridge, where do consumer gaming hardware brands fit? More generally, what are the implications for the IT device industry?

In March 2019 Google announced a new cloud gaming initiative. Stadia, which will launch later this year, is a cloud gaming service that Google says will offer a seamless gaming experience in its Chrome browser. Game streaming services allow vendors and developers unprecedented control over the user experience and minimize friction for end users.

Hardware makers should be worried. Specialty OEMs like Razer and Alienware serve the gaming market with high-end, graphically capable devices. If cloud services like Stadia are going to abstract away consumers’ hardware needs, where does that leave OEMs? As devices matter less, it stands to reason that the device market will matter less as well.

Stadia (and other equivalents) represent the withering away of the high-end consumer hardware industry. As cloud services improve and users get used to the SaaS model, their device expectations will change. Gaming is the frontier today; tomorrow it could be video editing.

Our Take

Cloud gaming is less important for IT professionals than the inevitability it represents. Vendors want you in their datacenters, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company running analytics on customer data or a fan of the latest Assassin’s Creed game. Adjusting user expectations and requirements to comport with cloud experiences is a must.

Stadia is yet further evidence of the cloud’s encroachment into all facets of IT. Improved capabilities, custom cloud hardware, low latency networks – all of these have their place in areas other than gaming. Google has a huge consumer business, so Stadia is more than a cloud proof of concept. It is, rather, an important demonstration of the cloud’s potential to change how we deliver IT services.


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