Google Stadia Streaming Gaming is Having Troubles: Bigger Problem – Usage Caps

Color me surprised !!! Google’s Stadia streaming gaming platform is running into some troubles.

Wouldn’t be the first time that Google has stumbled with products old and new. They kinda have a history of shipping half baked products. Basically their product strategy seems to be to throw stuff on the wall and see if it sticks. Google’s Stadia will be in some good, and some bad company. Can anyone say Motorola acquisition ?

John Gruber of Daring Fireball shares this last week:

Only 12 games for now, and they’re all old titles. And in this Twitter thread, there’s a link to a Reddit AMA where someone from the Stadia team was “offering to hand-deliver kits in the Bay Area to make up for the shipping confusion.” All sorts of missing features and confusion about which devices work.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball

Bigger Problem ? – Internet Usage Caps

Google, of course, isn’t the only one trying to make streaming gaming work. Sony has been trying to make PlayStation Now work for a while.

While the tech is something pretty cool to aspire to, this a big problem. Especially with goals like this one.

Google Stadia will allow anyone to stream major PC and console games from Google’s cloud servers. Those games will support up to 4K resolution, 60fps and with almost no latency.

Google Stadia games: Here’s the full list from Android Authority

Really ? 4K at 60fps ? And almost no latency ?

Well, let’s put aside that “almost no latency” is a major problem in gaming. You can’t buffer gaming. It’s not a movie or TV streaming service.

What about the Internet traffic its gonna create ? Usage caps have become common practice in the last few years. ISPs have gone backwards in the quality of service they offer.

In my neighborhood in San Jose, CA – Silicon Valley and tech capital of the world – our ISPs suck. We’ve got Comcast Xfinity over conventional cable tech. And AT&T offering service over fiber.

Both cap usage in their reasonably priced plans to 1TB. That can’t even handle a month of 4K video streaming. You’d blow through that cap easy with just 4K movies and TV. And the reasonably priced plans are also speed throttled. Not to mention the reliability problems.

And what about Internet service quality in other parts of the country ?

I don’t think our infrastructure, nor our ISPs, are up to the job. Streaming gaming is gonna have a helluva difficult time working for a lot of people.

…cloud gaming is nowhere near posing a threat to the conventional console business. It’s not just a question of technological obstacles; game-streaming services have yet to establish a consistent business model. As a result, he says, “third-party publishers are pretty darn leery.”

Wired article on PlayStation Now

Does This Architecture Design Even Make Sense ?

Back in the day (well, really still today), you designed architectures to separate the backend services from the front end that handled the user interface (UI) and graphics. Especially graphics intensive things like drawing UIs, animation and video rendering. You’d put that horsepower in the front end device. That is why GPU tech evolved and still dominates graphics intensive applications like gaming and a ton of graphics intensive applications.

That’s the fundamental architectural principle that the web is based upon. Not to mention cloud computing, and just about every advanced tech designed in the last 30+ years.

How does it make any sense to re-design the most graphic intensive and latency sensitive application around, like gaming, and try to push most of that tech into the backend ? Especially when the connections between the backend and the frontend are still seriously limited.

Someday

I have no doubts that our tech will someday be capable of supporting something like this. Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) are paving the way and are a proof of concept that Internet latency issues can not just be overcome, but that a very successful User eXperience (UX) and business model is possible.

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Ken Adams

Writer, software engineer, Agile coach, Scrum Master. Check out my LinkedIn profile at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kennethbadams

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