The battle lines are starting to get drawn for next generation of gaming with the PlayStation 5 and the Next Xbox. There is also a new battleground and we are at the dawn of it. Cloud gaming is coming of age and we have two major rivals about to go toe to toe in Microsoft and Google.
While there are a other cloud gaming solutions out there they do not have the money or infrastructure like Microsoft and Google. Companies like Shadow have shown that cloud gaming and computing can work but they are held back by a some limitations. In Shadows case storage and processor bottlenecks are stopping the service becoming fully recommended.
Google and Microsoft are going at cloud gaming in two different ways and both have there strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft is going for what I would call a hybrid approach to cloud gaming while Stadia would be going for a pure cloud gaming solution.
xCloud and Microsoft
Microsoft’s approach for xCloud has a major advantage over Stadia but ironically is also its major weakness. They are tied to the Xbox console. The obvious advantage to be tied to the Xbox console they will have a vast library of games to far back on. Users who have invested into the Xbox ecosystem will also have access to these via xCloud.
With the ability to stream your actual Xbox from home this will allow games both physical and digital games to be played as well over a cloud gaming solution. Another advantage Microsoft has Xbox Game Pass. With Game Pass gamers can access a wide range to games for a low cost including new 1st Party games when they are released.
Adding into this Microsoft has played a blinder with the “accidental glitch” which allowed gamers to buy multiple years worth of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a low price. This will keep gamers in the ecosystem for that amount of time. This is especially prudent with the new generation around the corner.
All of that is good but with the console being tied around the neck of Microsoft it is also a weakness. As Microsoft will have to cater to the console market it is also bound by its limitations. It isn’t a cloud only solution so cloud only features may have scaled back or removed completely.
Now for Stadia
The opposite is true for Google and Stadia. As a pure cloud gaming platform they are not tied to consoles. So the cloud gaming experience will be a pure. We have already seen glimpses of this already in the Stadia Connect and the GDC talk.
Firstly we have state share. I feel this going to revolutionise gaming and usher in a new genre of games. State share could be used in a manner of different ways. These could be finding a fun bit of game and allowing others to join in. Make a challenge for people and see how they do. Compete against a YouTube star and see if you get a better score. This will all be possible with a click of button.
Then we have a feature which could revolutionise team multiplayer. During the demo for Ghost Recon Breakpoint the stream connect feature was shown. With this you can see what your squadmates game is showing. For some games this will be a transformational change and will add in new strategy and benefits in playing on Stadia.
We could have what I feel could bring back the look and feel of the arcade. Crowd Play allows people who are watching YouTube creators to join in. Could this herold in a new winner stays on from arcades of old? It will bring more interactively between streamers and their audience.
Stadia won’t be held back by having to also worry about the consoles as it is its own platform without any limitations of legacy hardware. With that Stadia can add new features and adapt to new trends in gaming without worrying about leaving gamers behind. They can be the trendsetters and without the consoles holding them back innovation can be set free.
Wait there is more
With Stadia you will not have to upgrade or buy the new console hardware going forward. Everything couple of years there will be a bump in performance for Stadia. No more having to wait for the next generation for the increase in power and having to buy new hardware to support this.
The entry to Stadia is free. You see a game you like you can buy that and you can play it with no subscription. This removes a massive barrier for people. When the new consoles come out next year do you want to buy them or would you be happy to give Stadia a shot? The subscription for Stadia Pro with 4k gaming starts to look more enticing when compared to the cost involved in buy the new console.
These positives do come at a price. Games will be at a premium at launch like the start of generations of old as there is no back catalogue of games to fall back on. Having to rebuy games for a new platform. This is the xClouds strength and Stadias weakness. If Stadia can get out the door and get a good install base games will come.
What should you do?
Stadia and Xbox are approaching cloud gaming differently. Microsoft is strandling the two horses by offering cloud streaming and the console market and Google are pure streaming approach. Microsoft’s is a safer approach and will try and bring their audience with them. Google is riskier and has the potential to truly innovate gaming for the future.
It comes down to personal choice but what we want is strong competition between the two companies. If both of them are strong innovation and positive consumer actions follow. As this is Stadia website you know what we think will better but if you are in the Xbox ecosystem xCloud will be a good option.