We’ve been promised a brand new era of gaming by the end of 2019, with the launch of Google Stadia promising to change the way that gamers interact with video games completely, and where they’re able to play them. Thanks to the new technology offered by the software giant, the latest and greatest video games will be available to play anywhere you have a suitable controller and a screen to play them on, including mobile phones – or so we thought.
Now, as we move closer to Google Stadia’s projected November launch date, we’re receiving further information about how that promised phone connectivity will operate – and it looks like it’s going to be a disappointment for all but a handful of smartphone users at the point of inception.
Google Games For Google Phones
Despite Google’s much-vaunted promise of ‘availability for everyone’ it now transpires that the only phone users who’ll be able to interact with Google Stadia’s product range when the service goes live in November are those who own Google Pixel phones – and nobody else. At the same time, it was confirmed that there would also be an initial cost of over $100 to get yourself set up on the new format, which is at odds with the initial suggestion that anybody who was willing to pay a subscription cost of approximately $10 per month would have full access. It’s not currently clear why the parameters have been altered so significantly from the original concept.
Users of other phones running either iOS 11, Android M or upward will be able to download the Stadia app, register an account and make purchases, but they won’t be able to use their phones to play the games. It’s understood that there are no current limitations placed on tablets, but that too is subject to confirmation closer to the time.
Not all Google Pixel phones will be compatible either. It’s specifically the Google Pixel 3 range, which includes the 3, 3a, and XL variants of both phones which are currently capable of running the full version of Stadia. The fact that it will still be possible to run the app and make purchases through it on most mobile handsets seems to suggest that Google intend to make Stadia fully available on all devices at some point in the future, but there’s no current indication on when this might be.
Still More Clarity Needed
As mobile gaming is a booming industry, and the sector is one of the fastest growing of any industry in the world, the news is bound to be seen as a disappointment – especially to iPhone users, who make up so much of the market. Worryingly, there’s also a lack of detail on some of the information that potential buyers would ideally have liked to know by now. With the options for interacting with Stadia far more limited than we first believed, and the upfront costs much higher, it’s open to question how much impact the announcement will have on the eventual sales figures upon launch.
One aspect that players and phone users were keen to see information about is how games which were designed with consoles in mind will work on a touch screen, which they were never designed to work with. Although Stadia is intended to be played with a standard games controller, the initial concept suggested that full touchscreen compatibility was possible. Given that many of the games which are known to be included at launch, including ‘Doom: Eternal’ have already been designed for full-sized game consoles, we don’t currently know whether the Stadia versions will be exactly the same as the game which is played on the PlayStation and Xbox, or adapted versions for the mobile games market. If the answer is the latter, then the product may not represent the massive step forward that many of us were hoping for.
Hardware, software, and internet requirements are also something of a question mark. Much of the hardware demand will be taken out of the equation because the games are streamed across the internet from hardware stored elsewhere, but the devices the games they’re played on will still need to be able to cope with the display demands of modern console games, where every split second is crucial to timing and responsiveness. It’s one thing to play something like a uk slots game on your mobile phone, where everything has been designed with the mobile user in mind. UK Online casinos have been tailored over time to meet the needs of mobile clients, and UK slots games have been built to place as little demand on the end user’s device as possible. Online casino owners know that the more people have access to their games, the more money they’ll make. It’s quite another thing to make the latest’ Call of Duty’ title run smoothly and efficiently on a small screen that was never intended for such a purpose.
Even if the screens are capable – although it’s probably reasonable to suspect any phone more than two years old will struggle – internet connections may not be. Streaming a movie in 4K to a mobile phone is sometimes difficult even inside a home with a WiFi connection. Streaming a data-heavy console game in real time without lag or buffering may prove to be even harder. Lag or buffering would make the majority of games unplayable, and so that suggests that playing games while on the move, such as when on public transport, is out of the question. Again, the concern is that Google Stadia’s planned mass connectivity is a fine concept, but possibly one that handheld technology hasn’t quite progressed to the point where it becomes feasible. Based on the information currently available, it may be that Google is launching its new flagship technology into a world that isn’t ready for it.
The people best-placed to answer these questions for us will be those who own Google Pixel phones in November. The possibilities of Google Stadia – if executed correctly – are hugely exciting. If the launch is a disaster, though, we could be looking at failure on an even bigger scale than Google Glass, and a project which is terminally damaged before it even has chance to get off the ground.