We’ve got Netflix and Spotify… when is gaming going to get a first-rate streaming platform?
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We’ve got Netflix and Spotify… when is gaming going to get a first-rate streaming platform?

This week is Games Develop Conference week in San Francisco, where 25,000 industry pros are gathering to hammer out what the future of gaming looks like. And one player in particular, Silicon Valley giant Google, took centre stage with an exciting new platform called Stadia. The service is a streaming service for video games that will see gamers forgo downloads, and just play straight in a browser window (specifically, Google’s Chrome). Users can just navigate to the Stadia website in a new tab, and play the latest titles instantly.

Alphabet’s share price has appreciated by 14% so far this year

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If you’re not a gamer, you might not realise what a sea-change this could represent for the industry, but trust us, it’s big. Bloomberg compares the service to a Netflix for video games, and notes it could “herald the biggest shift in the $180 billion a year global gaming market since Super Mario jumped from arcades to the living room.”

Check out Google’s trailer and reveal on YouTube below:

To say that industry vets are excited about this release is an understatement. Streaming game platforms have been a holy grail for years, but the difficulty in enabling it has, so far, made it an untenable option. The problem is, essentially, one of power. It takes lightning-fast processing speed and other Big Tech to render the highest of high-end graphics and demanding gameplay in real-time. Cloud computing, of course, fills that need – the big boys in the space (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) are now more than capable of delivering streaming gaming to eager players.

That means, of course, that Google might not be the only big name to come and disrupt the market. And there are plenty of unanswered questions: what games would feature – latest hits or yesterday’s classics? Would major developers and publishers be willing to put their newest titles up and share revenue? Would players buy each game individually, or use a subscription library model like Netflix and Spotify? In the coming weeks and months, we’re expecting some answers from Google – but there’s plenty more to learn… particularly from other companies who might be planning something similar.

Whatever the answers are to the questions above, people with an interest in gaming and entertainment are united over one thing: this could be big. Joost Van Dreunen, a managing director at market research firm Nielsen, said: “Cloud gaming creates this moment in the industry where the multi-billion-dollar companies like Google and Amazon have a chance to buy their way in, in the same way they’ve done in video and music.”

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who covers the video game industry, thinks it might take longer to kick in. But he sees the potential in the long run. He said: “There are a couple billion people out there with internet access and only 250 million consoles. This could at least double the industry.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet, the parent company of Google, as well as Amazon and a number of video gaming-related companies, in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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