Weekly Drivel from Akaash - Everyone is partial to one camp over another

Written and posted by Akaash

*The below opinion article is written and posted on 4ScarrsGaming.com by Akaash. Please note that this article contains language that some may find offensive. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment below.*

It’s interesting. Whether you’re an avid fan of Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Stadia, and GFN. Or you ride for Apple and their iPhones or Android and it’s OEMS everyone seems to be partial to one camp over the other.

There was a time that I thought many of the “big” publications that I read online were somehow larger than life, smarter than most other folks, and at the very least more informed because of their “inside” ability to garner information.

And to an extent, the latter still remains true - their connections are often what separates them from “regular” folk. (Also, kudos to their writing and editing skills - no bashing there). But, beyond that…. ehhhhhhh.

Everyone circle-jerks. But some circle jerks are larger and more impactful. When fans circle-jerk they’re labelled as toxic, brainwashed and shills. When journalists and influencers circle-jerk each other they’re to be trusted. And if they’re called out - then they sorta get on their imaginary high horse and gaslight anyone in their way.

I’m not in the industry in any way. I do not write articles for pay. I had no desire for content creation. I have no desire to be a journalist in any regard. But, sometimes a Tweet is just too short to get something off your chest.

So, what am I getting at?

In a day and age where a person has similar access to products that “reviewers,” “influencers,” “journalists,” and other “content creators” have access to, what’s the difference between them all? Is there a difference anymore? In the end, is it perhaps all about who has the most followers and ability to impact the particular industry they’re in? Or perhaps it's simply to get a ton of clicks to get paid and/or to feel relevant? Or is it maybe just because you’re a fan and you love the industry? Or is it sometimes a mixture?

For gamers, many of us hear so much noise, rumors, and opinion pieces being portrayed as reports and news it's nauseating. Does everyone remember Nintendo’s impending doom? Or the constant rumors that Microsoft would buy Nintendo? Or how about right before Stadia was launched all the negativity that the Epic Game’s Store had been receiving? The gaming industry, like so many others, always seems to need a punching bag.

There’s seemingly always a pendulum of “news.” Whether it’s positive or negative - it becomes the IT thing to do and often the cycle seems to be unending - until it finally does. These journalists/reviewers/influencers are to some extent these perceived arbiters of truth. What they proffer is analysis, mixed with fact and opinion. And often, they write so well that the story they tell seems bulletproof. Or they have enough circumstantial facts that their analysis and conclusions on a subject matter is often deemed so plausible enough that it’s hard to deny it without some critical thinking.

The Business Insider article on Stadia’s future spawned yet another wave of circle-jerking. Many “influencers” and “content creators” and “journalists” all have an opinion on what’s happening behind the scenes. But the latest comes from Ron Amadeo. His article/editorial piece, titled: “Google Should Kill Stadia.”

Listen, to Ron’s credit, I think he’s been a pretty fair writer on all things Google for a long time. However, he is human after all and his biases tend to pierce through within his “reporting.” And recently with his Tweets and article’s one can’t help but notice that he’s grown increasingly negative towards the company he’s covered for so many years. And perhaps he has a right to be. Google, like most of these billion dollar companies, haven’t been saints and have had major missteps. Being critical of a company is important.

But this latest article by Ron is so well written that, if you’re not careful you can be fooled into thinking everything opinion based is factual (even if it’s not intended to be.)

Let’s break it down. He starts off to a few innocent type of questions

Sure there are! There’s plenty of great answers RON! But I’ll keep it very limited to whatever pops up into my head.

1. “What, exactly, are we doing here?”

Cloud gaming is expected to be in the multitude of billions of dollars in the coming years. A quick Google search indicates that there are plenty of research groups that reach a similar conclusion.

2. “Why does it want to be in the cloud gaming market?

Cloud gaming is a service that needs a cloud infrastructure. Hello GCP.

3. "What advantages does it have over its competitors, and how does it plan to maintain these advantages over time?

Azure with xCloud is in 28 countries. What’s the experience like with xCloud running on Azure with Rainway streaming technology? Why isn’t xCloud officially supported with mouse and keyboard. Why doesn’t xCloud have 4K streaming? Why doesn’t xCloud have official support for Android TV boxes? Yes. Beta. I know.

Luna with AWS in one country and in beta for over a year. Isn’t AWS the number one cloud provider in the world by leaps and bounds? Doesn’t it already have a leg in the gaming market and streaming via Twitch? Where’s the 4K streaming? Where’s the support for additional countries? The service as it stands is awesome at a technical level for 1080p content in the United States. But where’s the Android TV support?

GFN is in a super unique position. Its 3080 tier, which costs roughly $80 more per year than Stadia, is better in a lot of key ways. The sheer amount of games available and the HW backing those games are second to none in the cloud. However, what it lacks is a robust UI, a free tier service that actually matters, and monthly pro games. I’m sure there are others, but I won’t get too deep. The major difference between the two? GFN benefits from Nvidia’s wealth of experience in the gaming industry and just as importantly is using it’s own inhouse GPUs. The flipside is that Stadia is reliant on its partners for everything, except it’s infrastructure in the cloud and web streaming tech.

Those are some pretty good answers, if I do say so myself…

Moving onto the next interesting and valid point: Expansion to other Countries.

Google’s lack of expansion to other countries is dubious. Ron’s point on this is simultaneously illuminating and eyebrow raising. It does seem fair that Google hasn’t expanded to other countries because it was limited to being in the Hardware division. Ron sheds incredible insight here.

But why stop there? Is it because this is where the circle-jerk picks up? Or is it rather because he honestly forgot to state that Stadia is now a part of the Subscription Services unit. Or did he not think it was necessary for his article? Or, how about utilizing his resources for comments on how this change might be beneficial or why it even occurred in the first place? Or, maybe he did but he didn’t get a response?

Stadia has been made a part of the Subscriptions Services Unit at Google whereupon Phil Harrison reports directly to Jason Rosenthal. Jason’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the article.

And why is that important? If you head on over to Store.google.com and click on the Subscription tab - this is what you see:

Stadia is part of a family that consists of Google One, Nest Aware, Google Fi, YouTube TV, YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium, and Google Play Pass. And by the way, Google Play Pass is available in approximately 90 Countries.

But Ron’s point nevertheless remains. What’s up with country expansion? This is still a legitimate question. One that I have pondered about quite a bit. Ron has a legitimate pulpit with Arstechnica and if this article proved anything it’s that he’s not afraid to be too verbose. So if that’s the case, why leave out these legitimate elements as to Stadia being made a part of subscription services for an active reader? Unless of course - you know…. We’re trying to circle-jerk here.

Okay. OKAY. But why is Google’s Subscription Service Unit so important?

Perhaps Jon Markam, a contributor to Forbes touches on this here

Google is trying to make money. And more of it. Yes, I know - I was surprised. But other than the ad business YouTube and other sources of revenue are integral for its growth. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Research things and perhaps start with Mr. Markam’s article.

Next important point: Stadia does not have a latency advantage.

You won’t find much consensus about a latency advantage from Ars, Digital, and PC Gamer where Stadia is up against GFN’s new 3080 tier. Perhaps a better point may have been, Stadia Pro doesn’t have a latency advantage over GFN’s highest tier, anymore. Stadia and Stadia Pro’s latency has different metrics against GFN free tier and priority tier.

Stadia may not have an advantage for latency any longer and I’m no expert to say whether it's true or not either way. But should Google kill Stadia because it doesn’t have a latency advantage anymore as it concerns specifically the GFN 3080 tier? Wouldn’t it be better to compete to get better rather than close up shop?

Google still has a massive competitive advantage to anyone that just wants to purchase a game and not spend money monthly on any service. Google still has a massive competitive advantage against entities in the field except for the GFN 3080 tier.

The fallacy of “No one will find Stadia’s lag acceptable if they find the lag on other services unacceptable” reeks of Ron not having actually used Stadia extensively. Up until the 3080 tier, Stadia was the gold standard for latency. Just because there’s something that slightly better doesn’t make things unplayable on Stadia all of sudden. Let me tell you, if you can go to the Lighthouse in Trials against Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 players in Destiny 2, I think the lag is a little acceptable there…/s.

This one by far was a weird circle-jerk. A plea to the old circle-jerk crowd that “herpey derped” that cloud gaming had too much latency to be viable until GFN came along?

On to the next one - Google doesn’t want to invest in Stadia Hardware.

Truth be told, I personally wish and hope that Google does refresh it’s server blades sometime soon. And perhaps Ron has a point about how its servers work and the reason why it won’t invest in new hardware is because it can’t be utilized with something other than Stadia. But, I’m not sure - I don’t have the resources or connections from Google to confirm or deny that. Perhaps Ron does have the inside knowledge, but just didn’t quote a Google Executive that made this statement? Who knows? Or….do you think…. it could be part of a grand CIRCLE-JERK???

But seriously, Google needs to invest in upgrading its Stadia hardware. But Ron, the Google analyst for years on end, was silent as to Google’s capex statement on the most recent quarterly earning where it was mentioned that Google’s capex spending would meaningfully increase. Or that in reality on projects like this server blades aren’t refreshed that quickly. But, still I understand his point - it launched with sort of dated hardware and by now they should be thinking of upgrading. Ron does raise questions on this end that I’d like to know more about. Hopefully we may get some answers to that by Stadia themselves since it did recently have a survey…You remember that right Ron? I however, don’t see it mentioned at all in the article where you seem to be clamoring to some degree that Google doesn’t care enough about Stadia and this something contrary to that idea. One might call it a Circle-jerk.

And what’s up with this nonsensical drivel that is nonchalantly put into his article? A lawsuit?

Ron, is this a circle-jerk? Did you just throw in a hot button word, just because? Did you not even look into the status of it? The case was voluntarily dismissed by the Plaintiff Ron. Back in 2021! With PREJUDICE.

The last point I’ll address - Cloud gaming is more hardware business than cloud business.

Nvidia is king right now of performance. Yes, many of us understand that. However, there’s so many variables to this thing called cloud gaming that reducing it to vertical hardware integration is SO EASY. Who knows, maybe he’s right now this one. But I really don’t think he is. Ron trying to say merely kill Stadia but keep Google Streaming tech alive? I think he is. But why go through the trouble? Does he say the same thing with Android and more specifically Pixel phones which don’t sell well compared to Samsung and definitely iPhone which have complete vertical integration. This plea seems so bogus, it’s like an agenda.

Cloud gaming is just as much hardware as it is cloud! Nvidia has built something that right now only AMD, Intel, and perhaps Huawei have a perceptible chance at replicating themselves because they are in the chip making business. But this is not the only way to achieve cloud gaming.

Developers will be developing for both Nvidia and AMD chips for the foreseeable future. DirextX and Vulkan will continue to be targeted. Most games will continue to be developed on Windows first and translated over to other platforms. But there’s something else brewing up with cloud native development and this is something that is completely and utterly missed.

Importantly Geforce Now is NOT a cloud native experience. Games are built with an individual PC in mind and then Geforce just gets the right to put in on their service and streams it to us. This approach is amazing right now during a transition period to actual cloud native gaming, but it’s totally different from Stadia’s cloud native approach. Perhaps developers aren’t 100% on board yet to embrace cloud native development. But this is such a fundamental difference that is left out of this analysis.

Google’s developing tools, software, and its infrastructure to be a meaningful part of the cloud gaming industry. It’s doing its part in what they are experts at. Why ask Google to kill Stadia when this is just as important as hardware. Don’t you think that there will come a day that Development studios would like to develop at home or away from their collective teams’ offices? There’s so much more to this aspect, but I really can’t get into it all.

Additionally, Nvidia winning the war? Are you fanboying here RON?! LOL

But seriously, it’s probably just a slip up from Ron’s usual objectivism. Not that he needs reminding, but competition is GOOD!

But the real point I’m just trying to make is that journalists, tech reviewers, and content creators, influencers only tell a small part of every story. And unfortunately, we gotta sift through the bullshit to find the real truth - just like with the news via CNN and Fox News. It’s no different unfortunately. There’s a lot of good in the cloud gaming space. Luna, xCloud, Stadia, and GFN will help herald in a new form of gaming. Let’s try not to create a circle-jerk of hate anymore and let these services breathe.

- Akaash