Google’s latest “big idea” is to get into video gaming. They are apparently planning to release a gaming console, with the aim of competing with Sony and Microsoft:
The tech giant best known for its search engine and Android operating system for smartphones now seeks to take a stab at revolutionizing the $100+ billion gaming industry currently dominated by incumbents like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. As Google seeks to diversify its revenue sources beyond digital ads, gaming presents a massive opportunity for the company.
But Google appears poised to take a different approach when it presents its vision for the “future of gaming” during its Game Developers Conference (GDC) presentation on Tuesday in San Francisco. That likely includes a commercial version of its “Project Stream” service and its rumored “Yeti” gaming console, both of which could realize the ultimate dream of a “Netflix for video games ” streaming service.
Right now, if you want to play a hit game, you usually need to spend a few hundred bucks on a console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One or a good $1,000 or so on a high-end gaming PC. Then, you either need to go to the store and buy a physical game disc or wait for a large file to download to your console, which can take hours.
Google’s streaming service could change that model by letting users stream top games to the devices they already own, like a laptop, smartphone or streaming box connected to a TV.
While there’s already an understanding of how Project Stream worked, there are still lots of questions around how Google’s rumored “Yeti” console will operate. Since the processing is expected to occur remotely in the cloud, Yeti may be a simple piece of hardware — perhaps just a controller and streaming box that connects to your TV — that lets users stream games instead of playing them locally on traditional gaming console.
Google may be next in line to fail.
“I believe Google will have a tremendously hard time pulling off a successful paid game streaming service,” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told CNBC. “It has middling success with paid music, movies and books, so my expectations are low.”
Count me unenthused about this idea. Success in the video game industry is hard. The industry is littered with the corpses of companies and consoles which never really got off the ground. The key to success is getting game developers and publishers to invest on your platform, and that’s very hard given the existence of big budget, triple-A games which cost tens or hundreds of millions to develop. The developers of these games tend to be very conservative because they cannot afford a loss by gambling on an untested console.
Another issue is that to stream these games, people will need reliable high speed internet connections to stream the games. This demand limits the number of customers available to Google.
Finally, Google has a history of launching products to much fanfare, and then quietly dropping them a year or two later. Google+, Google’s attempt to make its own Facebook, is being shut down. Google Glass was a failure. Google has gone through multiple iterations of messaging services, all of which have been dropped, including Google Talk, Allo, and most recently Google Hangouts. Some Google critics refer to the company as having “ADHD” when it comes to services and products.
I’d encourage any gamers who read this site not to jump on the bandwagon and buy the Google console. Let Google prove that it can make sales and get big-name exclusives first. Also, it’s up to Google to prove they won’t get bored, dump the console, and move on to “the next big thing” in a year or two.