Stadia, announced as a gaming platform from Google, is currently a hot topic. However, there are always problems with streaming games.
The biggest problem with game platforms that rely heavily on the Internet is the Internet. Google’s new streaming gaming platform, Stadia, requires users to have a fast Internet environment, but that’s a big deal. “It’s always the most annoying thing about gaming streaming,” said Pat Moorhead, chief analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. If there is a lag, the game streaming service can not be established.
Even at the presentation held in San Francisco, several reporters sitting in the seats were struggled to connect to the Internet to write articles about Stadia. Although, there were hundreds of people in the room which could have affected GDC’s Wi-Fi to be dramatically slower.
Internet connection speed required by Google is above average in Botswana
According to a 2014 report by Statistics Botswana, out of 606,071 households in Botswana, only 40.6% had access to the internet. Mobile Internet was the most prevalent among the households with 94.3 percent of all households with access to internet. Fixed wireless was the next most prevalent internet connection used by most households (with 9.8 percent).
Only a hand full of Botswana households are using the Internet at a speed of 25 MBps. The average fixed broadband speed in Botswana is 8.66 Mbps. According to Google, it takes 25 Mbps to play 4K-quality games at 60 fps on Stadia . This means that only a few households will have Stadia’s optimal environment.
Another problem is latency in the online match. Games such as “Apex Legends”, “Fortnite” and “Rocket League” are very popular, but they are plagued by the slow network environment we experience in Botswana. A momentary lag on the net separates life and death, especially in these games . However, even single players such as “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” require 25 Mbps with Stadia. This means that adding the amount of data needed for the multiplayer will quickly use up bandwidth at a lower speed.
For most people, Stadia may be low quality
So what happens to people with too much traffic and speeds of less than 25 Mbps? According to Phil Harrison of Google Stadia, “If the bandwidth is small, the resolution will be reduced and sent.”
But I remain optimistic because of two point. Firstly is Botswana Fibre Networks (BofiNET) recent roll out of fibre across the country which promises faster, high-speed Internet throughout the country.
Secondly, is Google’s ability to deliver large amounts of video through YouTube. If you have a company that can solve Stadia’s streaming problems, Google has turned YouTube into a leading video streaming company.
“The bandwidth saved from MP4 to VP9 was huge,” said Google’s Moorhead. VP9 is a codec developed by Google for YouTube, he sees developing similar technology for the Stadia platform. After all, streaming games is about delivering live video as fast as you can in real time to user input. If you can do it on YouTube, you may be able to do it on Stadia as well.
Technology has not caught up yet
While the speed of the Internet connection is very large and unreliable. This is not an easy problem to solve with algorithms or AI (of course it can help). Moreover, because of this problem, the next generation of Microsoft and Sony will become more attractive. If you have a good internet environment, you can stream the game, and if you have a console that lets you download and play when it’s bad, will you think of using Stadia?