Tech Tent: Google comes out to play | Eurasia Diary -

26 June, Wednesday

Tech Tent: Google comes out to play

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It is the search giant which is pouring billions into everything from mobile phones to artificial intelligence and driverless cars,

Now Google wants to transform the video games industry and on this week's Tech Tent we explore whether its new service Stadia really does mean the death of the console.

The pitch as delivered at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday seemed simple but compelling. Google was offering a streaming gaming service which would give you access to all kinds of hot titles on any kind of screen with all the heavy lifting being done in the cloud. Bye bye console, hello a kind of Netflix for games.

But before we consign all those Xbox, PlayStations and Nintendo Switches to the dustbin of history, there are a few questions to be answered. Will most gamers' broadband connections be fast enough to make a streaming service an attractive proposition? Will developers all come on board? And is Google the right company to trust with the future of the games industry?

Keza MacDonald, the games editor at the Guardian, has her doubts. She makes the point that while Netflix viewers will tolerate occasional buffering of TV programmes, gamers will find that intolerable: "What makes the game nice to play is the instant responsiveness. So even the tiniest little bit of lag or delay, or stuttering or anything like that will ruin it."

Phil Harrison, the Google executive in charge of Stadia, says the service will use "some very clever compression algorithms inside our data-centers to make sure we deliver the highest quality experience to you at the best possible bandwidth."

While the menu of games outlined at the launch looked thin, he promised that big titles from major publishers would be coming to the platform in the coming months. But Google can't expect the established players to sit back and watch as it steals their lunch.

Microsoft is preparing its own streaming service, and neither the Xbox nor Sony's PlayStation is going to fade away any time soon.


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