GM Thought of the Week: Is the UK Ready for Streaming only Gaming Services?
This week Google announced Stadia, their new gaming platform which doesn’t require a console, as they believe “the future of gaming is not a box.” As the music market has successfully (from a consumer perspective at least) made the shift to a download/streaming model, reducing physical product sales considerably, this is the direction Stadia will take the gaming industry if successful. The potential capabilities are exciting. For example, imagine watching a game trailer on YouTube which gives you the option to “Play Now” regardless of what device you are streaming on (with the help of the controller).
This is a direction that has long been rumoured for the video games industry, and Google’s announcement comes at an interesting time. It is anticipated that both Sony and Microsoft will announce the next console generation during 2019, and there has been plenty of speculation that these might have multiple versions at differing price points, including download only versions which would save production costs on disc reading tech.
Whether or not Stadia is successful, or even if the behemoths of the industry follow suit or not, it is inevitable that the industry will move in this direction in the future. But is the UK ready for this type of service yet? Google are recommending internet speeds of 25mbps in order to stream at 1080p, 60 FPS. Yet as late as 2017, the UK was ranked as having the 31st fastest internet speeds in the world (according to Wired). Things have improved since then, and TrustedReviews now reports that the average UK broadband speed (as of May 2018), is 46.2mbps. But surely one of the major attractions of the service will be its functionality on the move, and 4G speeds pose a problem. 4g.co.uk reported that as of October 2018 only one major service provider, EE, exceeded the recommended 25mbps, with Three, Vodafone and O2 falling below 20mbps.
As with other streaming services, such as Netflix, stream quality will be adjusted based on available internet speeds. Practically, this works for a video only service. But for an interactive gaming service, there remain some doubts which will potentially only be fixed by the introduction of 5G (whenever that may be…).