A Shift in Perspective
2018 & 2019 have seen a lot of change with traditional gaming – and in my opinion, it’s not for the better. We saw a dark path ahead in the early 2010’s with ‘freemium’ gaming being a key player with people who didn’t see themselves as gamers – games such as Candy Crush and Farmville being some of the most popular, and bringing in more money than some of these companies knew what to do with. This led to controversy when it came to launches with real games, look at the original EA Star Wars: Battlefront that allowed players to basically purchase all of the tools that they needed to win. The in 2017 we saw the rise of PUBG and Fortnite, allowing hardcore gamers to really ‘pay-to-play’ and steadily becoming the most popular games in the world. Fortnite has grossed well over a billion dollars to date…. And it’s a free-to-play, cross-platform game that everyone plays. Sure, those last two are still popular, but as games such as Candy Crush, Farmville, and Animal Crossing have seemed to subside, we saw early indicators that things would eventually move over to streaming. This can sort of be blamed on video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
Content Delivery – Who wants to own it?
These content delivery methods have proven that, well, people don’t really want to own anything anymore as far as movies go – at least in my opinion. Personally, I think it’s cool to have all of those DVD box sets of ‘The Simpsons’ or the wide array of ‘Call of Duty’ games going back to the PS2 through my current PS4, but the masses just don’t want things taking up space anymore. People are gravitating towards smaller homes, or staying in apartments longer, and they just seemingly don’t want the volume of stuff. What does that have to do with Stadia? Well… no more game collections. Sure, Valve and Steam have really put the physical game idea down for PC gamers over the last 10 years as well, but over the last five it’s really hit home for console gamers – Sony and Microsoft are both seriously advocating that people purchase the digital game versions over the physical by offering special in-game content that you wouldn’t get otherwise, and all sorts of other perks. And both now have their own Pay-to-Play, Stadia style services with Playstation Now and Xbox Game Pass – the major difference being that you download it to the console and delete when you are done at the price of $9.99/month.
What is Stadia?
So I’ve used the name of the service a few times now, and still have yet to describe it. Stadia is an upcoming service by Google that will function on all devices – with the Chromecast being it’s primary TV play device (click here for more details). The point of this? No serious hardware required on your end. It’s all streaming. For $9.99/month you can play a huge library of games.
Everyone has one, and here is mine. No. Just No. Do we really need yet another streaming service? Admittedly, if you’re buying a new game a month for a console, at $60 ea, totaling $720/yr, you may be saving money in the long run…. But what did you get for that money? What if the service goes defunct, and you want to continue to play that game, will each one of these larger developers (such as EA) be allowed by Google to have players log into their EA accounts and save their progress to sync it cross platform? A movie, I may watch it a handful of times when I buy it, games I get a lot more time out of, and in a lot of them they have a different story outcome based on how you finish it, and instead of getting 2 hours of entertainment for a $20-30 movie, I’m getting 30+ hours of entertainment out of my $40-60 game. The value proposition on purchasing a game versus streaming a game is much higher than purchasing a movie. I think that this will simply be a brief trend in games, and as lag irritates the gamers over time, servers crash and boot gamers mid single player campaign (something they’d never have happen if it was stored locally), and as the higher budget, console exclusives continue to hold people like me to their Playstation, Xbox, or even their Dedicated PC that was truly designed with gaming in mind (not to mention can be played during an internet outage) this will fade, and just be another chapter in the history of video games.