This article was written by Jennifer Dawson.
Google’s Stadia made its debut in Los Angeles last week at the Game Developers Conference, to mixed worldwide reviews. Offering the opportunity to stream blockbuster video game titles to anyone with a phone, TV or computer, Stadia is being positioned as the Amazon Prime or Netflix of the gaming world. While the world awaits further information, are the early signs promising for the Malaysian market? Should the country’s gaming community be getting excited?
How Stadia Stacks Up
The global video game industry was worth an estimated $135 billion at the end of 2018, with around 2.3 billion players worldwide. Google’s Stadia seeks to disrupt and expand this market by offering users the chance to stream gaming content wherever they are, on any internet-ready device. Using a new controller, the service allows players to stream live play or ask their Google Assistant for help with particularly tricky challenges. It may be Google’s vision for the future of gaming, but how will it play in Malaysia?
The Malaysian government has recognised the country’s potential as the leading economy for gaming development in South East Asia and has pledged $2.4 million to eSports; a figure which has been matched by prominent industry figures. Some of this investment would be well spent on preparing the technological infrastructure necessary to stream games quickly and satisfyingly. While Malaysian internet penetration has risen to 85.7%, some areas may still struggle to cope with live streaming of video games in the way Google envisages, and which players would desire.
The Millennial Market
Stadia is likely to appeal strongly to South East Asia’s millennials due to its sociability and affordability. With 79% of the region’s millennials claiming that they couldn’t live without their smartphones for the social connections they provide, Stadia’s shareability and talkability will undoubtedly appeal. Secondly, it opens up an affordable way to socialise for this generation who are famously juggling their financial commitments. With no expensive console necessary, the only required investment is in the controller and cost of the game. However, if the popular soundtracks on games such as Silent Hill and Final Fantasy are anything to go by, it would also be worth investing in a sound system that enhances the playing experience. When added to good friends and good quality surround sound, Stadia should hit the right notes with Malaysia’s millennials.
What Next for Google’s Gamers?
Google is expecting to open the Stadia platform to users in the US, Canada, Britain and parts of Europe later this year, so Malaysia has a little longer to wait. For now, the priority for the technology giant is its games offering; with more than 100 developers on board, the key will be giving gamers access to some great titles. Experts are also waiting to see how Google will monetise this technology; removing the barrier of console price is great, but users will need to pay for the content presumably either on pay-as-you-play or subscription. There may also be an opportunity for advertising revenue.
While Google’s latest offering may be exciting news for the gaming world in general, it may be a while before Stadia reaches Malaysia. However, this may be no bad thing, as it gives the country time to secure internet penetration and broadband speeds. It also means that teething issues will be ironed out in the US and other markets first. As and when the technology is ready, it’s likely to be a hit with Malaysia’s sociable, tech-savvy millennials who are certainly ready to play.