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Google made a game-changing announcement at GDC, but is Stadia a game-changing name?

As many of you know, I love games. I grew up playing both board games and video games, still love them both, and over the last few years have really gotten into both indie games and VR games. Since the Moscone Center is just a few blocks from my place, I usually pick up an EXPO pass for GDC so I can get a chance to walk around a bit, play some games, and chat with companies like Unity, Google, etc.

This year at GDC there’s a lot of buzz about all kinds of different things, Oculus released the Oculus Rift S, Unity announced a zillion things including some incredibly slick real time ray tracing, and Google is getting more buzz than they ever had at a gaming conference as they dive into the gaming world with Stadia.

morganlinton-google-stadia-gdc2019

Okay so before I dive into the name, I know most people have no idea what the heck Stadia is, so let me explain. Right now, if you want to play an awesome new game like Fortnite or APEX Legends you’ll need a kick-ass gaming PC to really get the best experience. For those who are in this wacky gaming world, you know that a kick-ass gaming PC costs $2,000+ and for those wondering, yes I built my own gaming PC and no, I’m never happy with it and always want to upgrade.

Google is taking an entirely new approach with Stadia by creating a gaming platform where the games are actually running on super fast computers at Google and streamed to gamers. This means that the speed of your computer really doesn’t matter, you just need a fast Internet connection. To demonstrate this, Google actually tried to find the slowest PC possible during their demo to highlight how powerful Stadia is…and it was damn impressive.

Seriously, a $500 PC can now play a networked game with the same settings that only a $4,000 gaming PC could normally support. While you can use your own controller with Stadia, Google is also releasing their own controller later this year, here’s what it’s going to look like:

stadia-controllerOkay, so now you have a rough idea of what Stadia is…now for the elephant in the room. What about the name? It didn’t take long for people to hop on Twitter to share their thoughts on the name and overall with many people commenting that it sounded like some new medication.

I have to agree, this was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. The domain name Stadia.com was originally bought for $3,601 back in 2010 but I haven’t done the research to see if it was Google that picked it up then or a private buyer who might have resold to Google more recently. Either way, IMHO it’s a pretty mediocre product name and it really doesn’t feel like a name for a gaming-related product or service.

When I think of popular gaming platforms, they all have pretty strong names – Steam, Discord, Twitch. Stadia just feels like it doesn’t fit in with the rest. Of course maybe I’m just being too critical, and let’s be honest, with the marketing machine that is Google behind it, they’ll be okay. I’m really excited about what they’re doing and will definitely be a Stadia customer myself so in this case product > name at least for me.

What do you think? Did Google pick a good name for their new gaming service? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

eSports Saturday: Countdown to GDC 2019

It’s official, GDC is now less than two weeks away which means that pretty soon game developers from around the world will descend on San Francisco for what I personally think might just be my favorite conference on the planet. There is so much to do at GDC that I’ve compared it with the Louvre in the past, in short – there’s no way you can do everything so you have to pick and choose wisely.

One of my favorite things to do at GDC is to head over to the Indie Game section and check out all the incredible new Indie Games hitting the market. What I really like about this whole experience is that you’re playing a game while the creator watches. It’s a great opportunity for a game developer to see how a new user experiences their game, what works, what doesn’t and for me as a gamer…it’s awesome to play a game and have the developer right by my side.

Here’s a few pictures I took at the Indie Game section at GDC last year:

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gdc-2018-indie-games

no-heroes-here-gdc-2018

Last year my favorite Indie Game was No Heroes Here and it looks like I’m not alone as the game has been kicking ass and taking names on Steam as well and was ported to Nintendo and PS4, yowza!

Of courses there’s a whole other side to the convention center and that’s where you’ll find all the big companies like Unreal, Epic Games, Oculus, and really just about any major gaming studio you can think of. Last year Fornite wasn’t even close to the level of popularity of where it is today so it will be interesting to see how the focus shifts this year, I’m expecting Fornite and APEX to be head-to-head fighting for attention at GDC 2019.

Here’s a few shots of the amazing booths the big studios put together last year:

unreal-booth-gdc-2018

oculus-booth-gdc-2018

The big booths typically do fun things like give out beer, food, and swag, and of course you get to play their hit games, often while sitting on a comfy couch.

But wait there’s more, a lot more. I haven’t even covered the talks, of which there are a TON of and honestly, you’ll be struggling to pick between talks since so many good ones happen at the same time. Here’s a few of the talks that caught my eye this year:

ANIMATION BOOTCAMP: ‘GOD OF WAR’: BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO A HARDENED SPARTAN

BUILDING BUY-IN: CREATING DESIGN TOOLS FOR BETTER PLAYER EXPERIENCES AT EA

STORYTELLING FUNDAMENTALS IN A DAY

BOARD GAME DESIGN DAY: “KING ME”: A DEFENSE OF KING-MAKING IN BOARD GAME DESIGN

EVOLVING MIXED REALITY: DESIGNING ON THE REAL WORLD

Stay-tuned – I’ll be sharing more pre-GDC coverage here on my blog and then I’ll be there sharing some exciting updates live from the show!

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