Yesterday, Google officially released its Stadia application for Google TV and Android TV devices. The long-awaited game streaming service could previously be accessed via your Chrome browser, Android, iOS devices, and so on. More importantly, the app has been available on Google’s Chromecast Ultra streaming dongle for quite some time, making it available to a potential 1.7 billion televisions worldwide.
However, the availability of the service on the new Chromecast means that you can play your favorite games in seconds, without waiting for downloads, updates, or installs – and you can jump from the show you’re watching right into your stadia “game console” with just a few clicks. Streaming and playing video games to your TV in the same way you would a Youtube video is an incredible prospect, and now, availability and remaining data cap issues aside, this is possible for millions of people without the need to purchase an expensive game console.
It’s estimated that there are nearly 80 million active Chromecasts worldwide to date – up from 50 million just last year – so the popularity of the device simply can’t be discounted. In fact, if you’re reading this, I can bet you have at least one in your home right now. Why then, has it experienced such explosive growth in such a short amount of time on top of its already impressive presence? Well, Google did something they should have done long ago – they added a screen and a remote control.
While these two things may seem trivial to some, the mere inclusion of visual and tangible means of interacting with the nearly 121 million televisions in homes just in the United States alone meant that the Roku – the device that first popularized this method of making modern streaming media accessible to the masses – finally had some serious competition. Instead of having to cast everything, media returned to a more traditional means for those who weren’t fond of needing their phone to use their TVs – everything was right in front of them to reach out and interact with. The one thing that held the Chromecast back – things being out of sight and out of mind – was no longer an issue.
With that being said, while many people are still utilizing Google’s Chromecast Ultra, the growth of the Chromecast with Google TV could likely be directly responsible for the additional 30 million active units within the last year. Any television could now be transformed into a smart TV for a fraction of the cost. Yes, smart TV prices have come down considerably over the past few years, but now, users need only spend $50 instead of between $100 and thousands to get started. Not only that, but Google TV and Stadia itself are quickly becoming integrated into major TV brands this year. At CES 2021, Sony announced that its new Bravia XR lineup would include a dedicated Google TV application, and TCL followed suit shortly afterward. With the launch of Stadia on Google TV and the service’s availability expanding (The United States, the UK, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), more people than ever before will have direct and immediate access to the future of gaming.
In essence, you could say that Google Stadia has finally ‘arrived’ and made its debut in a way that it hasn’t and couldn’t prior. According to VGC, Sony has sold nearly 2.83 million of its next-generation Playstation 5 game consoles to date, and Microsoft has sold nearly 1.31 million Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. By launching Stadia on Google TV and Android TV, Google has the potential to plant itself into 80 million homes right out of the gate – that’s nearly 80 times as many ‘units’ as current juggernauts in the gaming space!
Now, that’s not at all to say that this will happen immediately. Yes, the Stadia app is finally widely available, but it will likely take years for many to adopt this game streaming model. By that time, even Microsoft and Sony will have their own services competing heavily with Google, and maybe even surpassing it. Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now have sizeable libraries that far surpass Stadia’s own, and while Google will be heavily responsible for popularizing the idea of playing games in the same way one would play a Youtube video, a podcast, a movie, or an audiobook – essentially modernizing the media – it will need to remain competitive and work harder than ever to keep up with the popularity of these decades-old and well-established household names.
By tapping into the average consumer and offering a level of accessibility in video games that has never before existed, Google has the potential to get more people on board and trying its service than anyone could have previously imagined. More importantly, when and if Sony and Microsoft get their streaming services on Chromecasts or dedicated TV dongles (which may take years as hardware sales are and will remain the focus!), and I have no doubt that this day will eventually come, the gamer is the one who comes out on top in the end. Aside from Xbox who has already deprioritized its weakening hardware sales in an effort to put more of an emphasis on its service, even making it available through your web browser, Sony’s Playstation hardware is selling like water to someone stuck in a desert, so they obviously have no desire to change that at least for this console generation.
If you still haven’t tried Google Stadia, I encourage you to sign up for a free 30-day trial which gives you immediate access to over 30 games with more being added each month. Give it a shot – if you like it, it’s only $9.99 per month thereafter – the price of your Starbucks for a single morning. Don’t forget – it turns all of the devices you already own into powerful game consoles, and now with its inclusion on your living room TV, you can form your own opinion of the service. Besides, Google is constantly giving out free or discounted Premiere Edition bundles which come with a Stadia controller and a Chromecast, and it’s even giving 50% off of the Stadia controller via email codes this week. Pair that with Family Sharing, the ability to use other controllers you already have, all of the Ubisoft games that recently came to the service (Far Cry 5 is just $8.99 with a Pro subscription right now!), Madden NFL 22 becoming available for pre-order, and so much more, and you’ve basically got no reason not to pick up your TV remote, install the Stadia app and experience the future of gaming.