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Alphabet’s Google unveiled its new cloud-based video-game playing and sharing platform, Stadia, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.
The new platform will be powered by chips made by AMD (AMD) and will launch sometime this year. With this announcement, Google (GOOGL) obviously is showing their plans to upend the $140 billion gaming industry dominated by Sony and Microsoft saying this is a “game platform for everyone.”
Google stock climbed 1.2% to 1,202.46 and overall has gained 15% in 2019.
Stadia will allow players to instantly join games they view on YouTube via a “Play Now” button in the corner of the screen. Games will be available to play on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, TV sets and phones without requiring a console. Google has also made a custom Stadia Controller that connects directly via Wifi to a Stadia game-playing session; it will have one button to share content with other users, and another to connect with Google Assistant.
Will Amazon and Microsoft Follow?
Along with the service, Google unveiled a new gaming controller device that links to cloud services directly via Wi-Fi. Via the controller, users can share gaming experiences on YouTube.
Google didn’t disclose how much its gaming controller will cost. It’s expected to be significantly less than the current cost of gaming consoles, which now range from $250 to $400.
The streaming service makes set-top box-type consoles unnecessary, possibly heralding a major shift in the future of gaming.
While Google was first to introduce a streaming video game service with Stadia, there’s wide speculation Microsoft (MSFT) could follow in late 2019. Furthermore, Amazon.com (AMZN) is expected to launch a similar service in 2020.
Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are the biggest players in cloud computing services. Their cloud infrastructure — data centers packed with remote computer servers — gives them an edge in streaming video games.
Another contender could be telecom firm Verizon Communications (VZ). Verizon reportedly is developing a gaming platform using Nvidia (NVDA) technology.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) spiked 11.8 percent. The rally brought AMD’s market cap to roughly $26.1 billion, adding about $2.7 billion in value. AMD has jumped 127.5 percent over the past year, although it’s still off from its peak price of almost $33 last September. AMD closed the day trading at $26 per share.
Morgan Stanley said AMD has a “significant opportunity” from cloud gaming chips citing its “surprise” success in winning part of Google’s gaming initiative.
The firm estimated AMD had $50M in cloud-gaming revenue in Q4.
Analyst Joseph Moore said:
“We continue to be impressed by AMD’s progress at using innovative approaches to expand its markets in all segments.”
Moore maintains his Underweight rating and $17 PT, seeing the stock as “ahead of itself” as cloud gaming won’t get AMD back to the Q4 high watermark at any point in 2019.
Google vice president Phil Harrison, who joined the company a year ago after working at Microsoft and Sony’s video game divisions, told the GDC audience that Google had partnered with AMD to build a custom GPU to power Stadia. The GPU will be inside Google’s data centers that run Stadia and will provide 10.7 teraflops of power, compared to 6 teraflops for Microsoft’s Xbox One X console unit, and 4.2 teraflops for Sony’s PR4 Pro, according to Google.
At launch, Google said that Stadia would be able to provide up to 4K streams at 60 frames per second, along with HDR and surround sound.