Which big tech company stands to benefit most from the expected shift of videogaming to the cloud? If this week’s news is any indication, Google wants to be among the leaders.
(GOOGL)-owned subsidiary announced a partnership on Monday with Ubisoft (UBSFY) in which the former will use the latter’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed Odyssey game as part of a test in which participants will be able to play via their Chrome browser on laptops and desktops. (The test is called “Project Stream.”)
Barron’s Jack Hough did a deep dive on the potential for cloud-based gaming in August, but the short version is that cloud computing—and powerful internet connections—could liberate gamers from gaming hardware, freeing them to play across devices, on the go, and with less stuff in their homes.
That could attract new players who already carry increasingly powerful phones. (To wit: A recent review of a new Samsung phone evaluated its fitness as a machine for playing Fortnite.) It might also help gaming shift more quickly toward subscription models, rather than one-off or one-off-plus-online-extras sales.
’s Brian Nowak wrote Tuesday, “has the potential to lower barriers to entry for [high-end] games…and expand the addressable gamer market. It also has the potential to lead to stronger unit economics for the publishers (smaller revenue share paid to platforms) compared to current delivery models.”
Performance questions are paramount, since while some fits and starts are bad enough while you’re watching, say, BoJack Horseman, a hiccup at the wrong time while playing a game could be the difference between (virtual) life and death.
Unreliability, in short, is a deal breaker. “The incredible visual fidelity of its world combined with the mechanical demands of being a Spartan mercenary in Ancient Greece make Assassin’s Creed Odyssey the perfect candidate to push Project Stream to its limits,” Ubisoft wrote in a Monday post.
This latest partnership is, in some ways, early in the game—consoles, for example, are still powerful drivers of business—but it’s not hard to imagine more deals like this coming. (And there are plenty of other companies that offer their own platforms; Google isn’t first.)
If gamers think Google’s offering is good enough for serious play, things could accelerate substantially; Morgan Stanley figures that companies like
(EA), which currently have their own platforms for distributing PC games, might look to Google next.
“If Project Stream succeeds in delivering a smooth and reliable gameplay experience,” Nowak wrote, “the technology could see rapid adoption.”