Google (GOOGL) dropped some key details about its new cloud gaming service just ahead of next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — the biggest trade event in the video game industry (and the largest collection of unwashed boys in said industry).
The Google Stadia is a Netflix-like subscription service where video games are run on Google’s powerful servers and beamed straight into almost any internet-connected device.
Theoretically, this will allow anyone to play high-end video games with eye-wateringly detailed graphics, without the need for a console or ultra-powerful (and ultra-expensive) gaming PC.
As long as you have relatively fast internet and a laptop, you’re good to go.
Google announced the Stadia only three months ago. But the company said yesterday that the console killer will be launching this November. (But not Guam or Hawaii. Because they’re in the middle of the ocean and Google can’t swim.)
The premium service is priced at $10 a month, which is comparable to a TV streaming subscription or an overpriced sandwich.
And as long as you have download speeds of at least 35 Mbps (Mariobutts per second. Don’t google it. Just trust me), you can play any game at 4K resolution, 60 fps streaming. (Which is on the high end of the performance.)
There are now more ways to play video games on the toilet than ever before.
Google is also making a free version of Stadia available in 2020, but this will feature a noticeable graphical downgrade.
That said, your subscription fee (or lack thereof in the case of the free version) won’t buy you access to the actual games (with the exception of a few Stadia exclusives).
Rather than paying for access to a suite of content, like Netflix or Hulu, you’re instead paying for the raw computing power of Google’s monster servers and then buying game titles separately to play on that platform.
Does it Work?
We haven’t seen the Stadia working in the wild. And this exact type of technology has been promised by competitors before and failed horribly. But none of those folks have the sheer computing power and resources that Google does.
If Google can actually pull this off, this could be the end of traditional consoles, high-end gaming PCs, and the companies that manufacture the over-priced parts that keep those machines humming.
Rumours indicate that Xbox (MSFT), PlayStation (SNE), and Amazon (AMZN) are all testing rival cloud gaming services. And they could announce their new platforms as early as next week.
Regardless of who comes out on top, this could reshape the video game industry to focus less on hardware and more on services.
Mexico Caves, White House Stays the Course
In an attempt to smooth out trade tensions with the U.S, Mexico will take steps to staunch the flow of migrants to the U.S. border.
But is their commitment enough to satisfy the U.S. administration’s vague demand to “substantially stop the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory”? (Spoiler alert for paragraph five of this article: it’s not.)
With the threat of substantial tariffs looming over its head, Mexico has announced it will deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to its Guatemalan border.
These troops will be tasked with cutting off Central American migrants before they can travel up through Mexico and cross the border into the U.S.
That’s a substantial amount of troops for a country severely lacking in military manpower. However, the administration has said it’s not enough.
White House Press Secretary and patron saint of furrowed-brows Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters this morning, “Our position hasn’t changed. The tariffs will move forward and go into effect on Monday.”
However, according to White House insiders, this week’s trade negotiations with Mexican officials “preceded very favourably” and may be enough to convince Trump to drop the tariffs.
President Trump will be back in the U.S. today after spending the week rubbing elbows (and touching lower backs) with Europe’s leaders. And after catching up on an entire week of DVR’d Fox & Friends, he’ll be taking the weekend to review the options laid out in the negotiations.
“There’s a legal notification that goes forward today with a plan to implement tariffs on Monday,” said top Pence aide, Marc Short, this morning.
“But I think there is the ability — if negotiations continue to go well — that the president can turn that off at some point over the weekend.”
If no deal is reached, the administration plans to increase the tariffs by 5% each month until it reaches 25% in October.
[Ed note: Right here is where I’d usually stick a good old Trump tweet but the president hasn’t been tweeting as much while in Europe.]
One Last Thing
Spicy Profits for Craft Condiments
According to market-research firm Euromonitor, hot sauce sales jumped 25% over the past five years.
Retails sales of hot sauces grew to $700 million in 2018, reflecting a trend towards more adventurous eating in younger consumers. (It’s the perfect condiment for self-hating millennials who want to die.)
This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone with a drawer of awfully named local hot sauces at home, but a large portion of that growth is driven by small brands (and bad puns).
Small brands account for 41% of the hot sauce market, compared to 7% in mayonnaise and 3% in ketchup. (Which makes sense because homemade ketchup is gross. They just don’t put enough of the terrible stuff that’s killing me slowly in there.)
There are a few reasons why smaller brands have come to dominate the space.
One factor is that there’s a kind of “craft beer”-like culture around hot sauce. Millennials want to try the weirdest, strangest hot sauces they can (and dangle it over their millennial friends like a badge of honour that gives you an extra 15 minutes a day in the bathroom).
But the biggest factor is the cost of entry. Ingredients are cheap. And producing small batches is easy and can be accomplished in a small kitchen. (Though there is the risk of incurring mama’s wrath if the kitchen is not left spotless.)
It’s a spicy space right now. And we’re keeping a close eye on it.