Google and Microsoft compete via video game streaming services

Courtesy of Google Stadia

For consumers, being able to open their phone, bring out a controller and play the newest Call of Duty game on the go was just a pipe dream, but now Google and Microsoft are promising major advancements to gaming-on-the-go with new game streaming services.

PCs and consoles are expensive. Google’s newest gaming project, called Stadia, removes the expense by offering a subscription service. For $10 per month, users can access Google’s state-of-the-art hardware from a computer, phone or tablet, as well as purchase a large swath of the latest and greatest triple-a titles. Instead of purchasing a Playstation or Xbox console for upwards of $300, you can stream the game to your home.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft began Project xCloud. Currently in beta, xCloud offers the same level of hardware as Stadia but goes a step further. Simply by purchasing the Xbox Game Pass, users get xCloud for free. That means players will have access to more than 100 games along with the service for just five extra clams a month.

But how does it work? Users access physical PC hardware located at Google or Microsoft offices. These advanced electronics are partitioned so that multiple users can take advantage of the hardware at the same time, streaming display output from Google or Microsoft to the comfort of your home.

Kim Peters, associate professor of computing, software and data services, said she believes game streaming will be popular. 

“This is something many people want,” Peters said. “(Students) don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars.” 

However, Peters was concerned about privacy issues. Internet providers have ultimate control over the ecosystem and would be able to collect data from your gaming activity. Because gamers often talk to each other and interact in online forums, internet providers could accurately profile entire personalities, she said.

Greyson Berzansky, sophomore music major, said that this technology would be incredibly convenient, but that it would not replace our personal computers.

“Consoles maybe, PC, maybe not,” Berzansky said. “People will always need a computer, at least for the foreseeable future.”

Aaron Kooistra, sophomore engineering major, said he was more skeptical.

“I think that the idea is good but I personally don’t see me ever using it,” Kooistra said. “I would buy a game for my Xbox and then just play it on the Xbox only. Same thing for if I bought a game on my PC. I think that the feature is useful but not so revolutionary that I would pay to have it.”

For now, game streaming seems like more of a gimmick than a new reality, but the future is uncertain. As streaming gets better and the internet gets faster, paying a small fee every month instead of breaking out the big bucks for hardware and some games may become incredibly desirable.

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