There have been numerous opinions offered from all corners of the gaming community about the impact of Google Stadia. Gaming and business journalists, bloggers, and avid gamers all have opinions to share. And while a few revert to familiar hardware “spec” comparisons to gauge the value of new technology, the introduction of Google Stadia is clearly about much more. Google Stadia marks an evolution of the gaming landscape that’ll rapidly reshape the industry.
In the short time since Stadia was announced, several themes have emerged that will likely drive increased cloud gaming adoption.
- Consistent Premium Performance
- Transparent Maintenance
- On-Demand Gaming & Social Integration
- Device Access & Mobility
- Cloud gaming value chain
- Subscription based services
While this discussion is primarily based on Google Stadia, many of the value propositions introduced can be applied more generally to cloud gaming services such as Microsoft xCloud and Sony’s PlayStation Now.
Below we’ll introduce each theme and in future blogs dive deeper into each to explore their impact on the industry.
Consistent Premium Performance
Performance and hardware specs will continue to drive conversation near term for two reasons: the industry is familiar with it, and it can be can measured. While this understanding is important, moving forward the conversation will likely shift to focus on delivering a consistent premium experience. Stadia allows gamers to reconsider the entirety of the gaming experience and the context within which we view performance.
The choice of custom AMD “Vega”-based GPUs as a starting point for this service launch reflects Google’s strong commitment to what makes gamers happy and a deep understanding of what makes datacenters tick. Gaming is a part of the AMD DNA, delivering high performance GPUs for the latest game consoles, high-end gaming PCs, and the datacenter. The AMD “Vega”-based GPUs for Stadia are a proven platform featuring 56 compute units, up to 10.7 teraflops, integrated HBM2 memory, and with the Vulkan® high-performance real-time 3D graphics API part of the driver. That’s easily more power than the top two previous generation consoles combined and a foundation for success that can deliver a next-generation console experience today1.
But for the player, all that matters is the experience, which at resolutions up to 4K and 60 frames per second, with HDR and surround sound, promises to be fantastic and substantially better than what many gamers enjoy today.
How many times has a user tried to launch a game only to be met with a time-consuming multi-gigabyte patch? With cloud gaming, software maintenance happens in the background, transparent to the user. In addition, the centralized design of Stadia also means they will not have to worry about hardware upgrades. The datacenter can be upgraded to keep pace with changing requirements, transparent to the user. In short, more play, less hassle.
On-Demand Gaming and Social Integration
Stadia will enable the ~200 million people who watch game-related content such as trailers and live streams on YouTube to lean into their enthusiasm and join the action with just a tap on their phone, tablet, or computer. Social integration allows for instant broadcasting, archiving, and sharing you and your teams’ latest achievements. E-sports fans and stream audiences can simply click a link on their favorite social media site and instantly launch into the latest titles.
Game downloads are a thing of the past, like music and movies before it, many games are now available “on-demand”.
Device Access and Mobility
Google Stadia delivers the AAA gaming experience to the widest audience. That means great games, streamed via standard Internet connections, to a variety of devices, and all while enhancing the social aspects of and accessibility to those experiences to better match the preferences of today’s consumer.
This vision is made possible by shifting focus of the gaming world to the datacenter. The organizing principle of gaming is the datacenter rather than the individual’s device. Google’s 7500 edge nodes worldwide will put powerful gaming hardware essentially everywhere and in reach of virtually everyone.
With cloud gaming, if you need to take your gaming on the go, no need to start over. You can simply save state on your home theater or Chromebook and pick up seamlessly on your mobile device. That flexibility promises to change how players weave gaming into our everyday lives.
Evolving Business Model
The transition of gaming to the Cloud will impact many companies including console providers, game developers, and publishers. Traditionally, publishers have had a variety of platform options on which to distribute their game titles and reach their audience. One challenge they have faced however is the large fees required to gain access to each distinct platform. The introduction of new, high-performance cloud platforms like Stadia gives more choice for the game publishers.
Another interesting consideration which Stadia has introduced for many game developers and publishers is the access to nearly unlimited resources to build their games on. In the past, console hardware has tended to follow a slower refresh rate than gaming PCs. As a result, AAA games that appear later in a console cycle had to be developed to support both older console technologies as well as more recent platforms. The resource demands sometimes restricted what a game developer could create. It could be proposed that the datacenter is the console when speaking about cloud; better still, it can be continuously updated to maintain the highest levels of performance removing the need to buy the latest GPUs. By default they have access to the best gaming platform for their next blockbuster title.
Manufacturers building game-specific hardware including consoles have also recognized the potential of cloud gaming. They can see a future where they have an opportunity to shift their efforts away from developing hardware with costly components and fighting expensive PR battles centered on hardware superiority, and instead drive wholeheartedly at creating the best games environment. Datacenter-based gaming provides a new, more cost-efficient and sustainable direction that can consolidate and balance costs. It means the business of games can stop competing on specs and instead compete on content. That’s something every gamer can appreciate.
Subscription Based Gaming
Google Stadia breathes new life into the gaming conversation, triggering a dialogue about the liberation offered by cross-platform play, blurring the lines between gameplay viewers and players, and establishing a flexible infrastructure that adapts to the innovation of developers.
This is a conversation I'm excited to continue over the coming months.
George Watkins I Marketing Manager I Datacenter GPU BU
These views are my own and do not reflect that AMD.
©2019 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, Radeon, and combinations thereof are tradema##rks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Thunderbolt is a trademark of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other product names used in this publication are for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective companies.
1) 4th September 2019, based on PS4 Pro GPU performance (4.2 TFLOPS) and Xbox One X GPU performance (6 TFLOPs) compared to With Google Stadia GPU performance (10.7 teraflops)