Does Google Stand a Chance in Gaming?
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Rumors abound about whether or not Google has plans for an upcoming video game console that could rival the popular Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or any successors those gaming systems might have. It almost seems like an inevitability. Why would Google, who seems to dip its hands into everything, not try to move into the video game industry? It definitely seems like it could find some success.

The initial response, however, might be to think that the video game industry is kind of stagnant in terms of console wars. There are the main competitors and it has been so for a long time. Other companies have tried and failed to enter the fray. But that opinion would portray Google as an underdog, which it most certainly is not. Google has resources.

Similar apprehension and doubt was present in the industry when Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a video game console. Some of its plans seemed radical and, at the time, Sony and Nintendo seemed to be holding things down just fine. But through some developer acquisitions and the ability to create an innovative platform for online gaming, Microsoft’s Xbox gained the positioning to dominate the subsequent generation of consoles.

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But even in that story, there were only two main competitors, seeing as though Sega had dropped out of the race. Perhaps that is why there was room for Microsoft? These days, it looks like each of the consoles has its own kind of audience and consumers have sorted themselves between the three options. The producer for Yakuza cited the audience on the Nintendo Switch as part of the reason that platform wouldn’t be ideal for the Yakuza series. So, is there a fourth option that could manage to pull people from their consoles of choice?

Well, maybe. If there’s anybody who has that kind of data, it would probably be Google who has information on practically everybody. But, more than that, they might not need to worry about pulling the audience first if they can entice developers. Studio acquisitions are a large part of the formula here, and fans of the PlayStation 4 can quickly reference a long list of exclusives that keep them firmly in Sony’s domain. Google can, theoretically, possess the ability to create a giant library of exclusives as well.

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Google also might be able to change the way gamers think about purchasing products if its streaming platform, which has been codenamed Yeti, is any indication. Right now, limitations on library size and connection speed are partially holding back game streaming services but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that game streaming will be common in the future. If we are looking at that kind of shift, that would be a good time for a company to enter the market with their solution to the problem.

If Google wants to get into gaming, it probably can. It has the money to gamble. It has the money to purchase studios. It has the money to grant itself staying power. And, more importantly, it has the data to cultivate an idealized platform for its audience, much the same way Netflix does with its algorithms. And, if it can get a decent sized installation base, it might be able to gather even more data to improve its platform. It’s had to say for sure at this point, but I think it’s far too soon to count Google out.

Then again, they seem unable to settle on a single decent messenger application or break into the world of social media, so they are far from infallible.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie
@BenjaminMaltbie

Contributing Writer
Date: 07/16/2018

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