We’ve all heard the phrase, “competition is good for the industry” but at what point does competition become an issue? With Apple and Google making their gaming ambitions publicly known to the world this past week I couldn’t help but feel scared for the future of gaming.
At first I didn’t think much of the rumors of both Google and Apple joining the gaming space. The more money that is invested in the gaming world the better right? These companies would only create more job for potential developers, how could I be upset? Well it all started with the Google Stadia announcement.
The announcement came at the Game Developers Conference or GDC for short. Looking to get developers on board their platform, Google decided GDC as their starting point. With that in mind it was odd that they also decided to stream the event so that millions of people around the world could see their pitch to developers. What I saw during the conference was truly impressive but it all felt awkward. I realized why I felt so put off after watching their announcement trailer for Stadia. Google was approaching gaming as technology company first.
It all became clear when I saw the trailer. The trailer Google showed was something out of the TV show Silicon Valley. Google touted their product as if it would cure the worlds disease, as if this were the second coming of a religious prophet. It’s actually very ridiculous to watch a second time. The announcement trailer shows me nothing about the product Google was putting together but they sure as heck think of themselves as the most important contribution to gaming.
Seeing the trailer made me think of how Google would approach gaming ? How would Apple? This is what bothers me the most.
Apple’s goals are straight forward. Buy their hardware and get locked in to their ecosystem. The new Apple Arcade works across all your Apple products but what if I don’t have a Mac? Will I be able to play those games on my PC? Apple doesn’t build bridges so any gaming related contributions would likely only be held on their devices. Not much different to consoles in the last decades.
What about Google? Not many people know this but Google is an advertisement company first and foremost. They don’t make their money primarily from letting you search on Google, watch videos on Youtube, or enjoy your latest Android smartphone. They make their money primarily by giving you all these things for free and in exchange they take any relevant data on who you are as an individual and then sell that data to advertisers so that the right advertisement is displayed for the type of person you are.
The game streaming services offer gaming anywhere.
How will that affect gaming? Well with Google having a near infinite supply of money they can easily adopt the same strategy for gaming. Give the product for free, gain knowledge of the type of gamer you are, and then place advertisements in the game. It’s not hard to see a future where they offer a subscription service that offers a free tier that is ad supported. They showed how easily they can get customers by having a link at the end of a Youtube video meaning their will be no way to avoid this future.
If Google does go this route then all competing streaming services, PS Now, XCloud, Apple Arcade, and any upcoming services will have to also do a free ad supported tier and that’s what bothers me the most. I come from a past that is used to buying physical games, reading the books that came inside the cases. Playing games without any interruptions. If ads do make it into the gaming industry and it’s free and I can’t help but feel newer and younger generations would put up with advertisements as long as they get to play the game they want. That’s not a bad thing but the transformation to this type of gaming is just something I would not want to see.