As we brace for the second half of 2019, the growing battle between streaming video services will be joined by one for streaming gaming services. Already Apple has announced its own streaming gaming platform – Apple Arcade – and now we have the formal launch of Google’s Stadia streaming service in November.
We can also add Microsoft to that pack, which over the weekend shared that it will begin publicly testing its new videogame-streaming initiative in October. That service will allow users to stream any Xbox One game to a mobile device.
Much like streaming video service, content for streaming gaming services and price points will be crucial to converting gamers, particularly causal ones. We suspect over time higher profile titles will make their ways to these platforms, but at the outset, a lack of compelling or noteworthy content will likely mean a whimper not a roar of a start for this aspect of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme. As uptake grows over time, and much like video streaming, we can expect these streaming gaming platforms to tax existing broadband and mobile networks, spurring demand associated with our Digital Infrastructure investing theme.
Google on Thursday revealed key details of its upcoming Stadia service, which will let people stream A-list games to the Mac without having to own a high-end console or PC.
The service will launch in November in 14 different regions, among them Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., Google said. People wanting in at that point will have to pay $129 U.S. for a Founder’s Edition kit, including a Wi-Fi-connected Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, and three months of Stadia Pro plus a “Buddy Pass.” Beyond that point Pro access will cost $9.99 per month, plus the cost of individual games not included with the subscription. Some games will be cheaper under Pro than they would be on markets like Steam or the Mac App Store.
The only announced bundle title is “Destiny 2,” though others are planned, and some should be announced at next week’s E3 expo in Los Angeles. Other confirmed Stadia games — bundled or otherwise — will include the likes of “Doom Eternal,” “Thumper,” “Baldur’s Gate 3,” “Borderlands 3,” and “Mortal Kombat 11.”
“Grand Theft Auto” and “Red Dead Redemption” developer Rockstar Games is confirmed as working on Stadia projects, but has yet to make them public.
Stadia Pro guarantees streams up to 4K at 60fps, with HDR and 5.1-channel surround, so long as the gamers have a 35-megabit connection. Google is working on a free version of Stadia with lower bandwidth requirements, but that will launch sometime in 2020 with quality capped at 1080p resolution and stereo sound.
Although a Chromecast Ultra will be required for TVs, gamers will also be able to play on Pixel 3 phones and any desktop or laptop with Google’s Chrome browser.
Stadia relies on streamlined Google data center connections instead of local processors or storage. The downside to this is that Stadia games can only ever work online, even purchased ones.
The gaming market is already dwarfing the movie box office and as we’ve seen in the social media space and year ago in the internet space, eyeballs drive revenue. This is leading gaming companies to recruit popular gamers to help drive awareness of their latest games much the way consumer product companies are utilizing social media stars on Instagram and YouTube to drive product awareness and sales via product placement. It’s a very different way to advertise but advertisers have a history of going where the eyeballs are.
In today’s Digitial Lifestyle, that means streaming video and gaming platforms, live gaming events and various social media platforms. This could mean an advertising business model is to be had in Apple’s Apple Arcade, Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s rumored streaming gaming platform.
The world’s biggest videogame publishers are paying popular gamers tens of thousands of dollars to play their latest releases live over the internet, hoping to break through to buyers in a crowded industry where dominant games like “Fortnite” cast a large shadow.
Electronic Arts Inc., EA -1.58%Activision Blizzard Inc., ATVI -2.28%Ubisoft Entertainment SA and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. are among the publishers making hefty payouts for the real-time broadcasts, or live streams. The amounts vary depending on the popularity of the “streamer,” and could go as high as $50,000 an hour for top celebrity gamers, according to talent and marketing agents.
Take-Two plans to pay streamers to play “Borderlands 3” when the comedic shooter game launches Sept. 13. Ubisoft, an early adopter of the live-streaming strategy, plans to use it again for the Oct. 4 release of its special-ops shooter game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.”
“Having celebrity streamers play games is an important part of the business,” Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chief executive, said in an interview. “It is relatively new, but it has to be organic. The streamers have to believe in it.”