Alphabet’s Google on Tuesday (19 March) unveiled a video-game streaming platform called Stadia, as the firm takes a stab at the $100bn-plus gaming industry as a way of diversifying its revenue sources. According to CNBC, the platform will store a game-playing session in the cloud and allow players to jump across devices operating on Google’s Chrome browser and Chrome OS (such as Pixel phones and Chromebooks), while also providing these players with instant access to their games. Although not much detail was given (including the price, whether it offers subscriptions and which games will be available on it), it did confirm that Stadia will launch this year. The plan is to launch in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe first.
Google made the announcement at the Game Developers Conference and while some industry outlets were expecting a streaming console, Google’s platform (for now) centres squarely on the company’s cloud infrastructure. IDC analyst Lewis Ward told CNBC recently that the gaming industry generated $136bn in revenues in 2018 and is growing at a rate of 15% p.a. So if successful it could mean significant additional revenue for the company.
In other news related to the gaming industry, it was revealed last week that when it comes to gaming systems Apple’s iPhone tops Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox (and Windows 10 PCs) and even Nintendo’s Switch as the most popular video game device. With over 1bn iPhones sold over the past decade, it reportedly enjoys the largest installed base of gamers (and this excludes iPads). Wedbush Securtities writes that with “… 900mn iPhones out there and only around 300mn consoles, … it is clearly the biggest base of gamers.” “No individual console has ever had an installed base of 200mn.” There are several reasons for the iPhone’s popularity among gamers, including accessibility, convenience, a huge variety of free-to-play games, and short duration game sessions.”
While this might not be comparing apples to apples (since a smartphone isn’t a dedicated gaming system), according to Statista, 50%-plus of smartphone users game on their device. In addition, while the Android operating system (OS) has a bigger overall install base than iOS worldwide, there isn’t just one manufacturer of Android devices, therefore Apple’s iPhone claim is valid. Also trailing the iPhone: the 700mn or so shipped PCs that run Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS, according to estimates from tech website, Neowin.