Google Stadia will launch later this year across US, Canada, UK and most of Europe. However, it is expected to face challenges in Australia, with internet speeds just one of the contributing factors.
Cloud Gaming Options Limited
Cloud gaming. It is the wave of the present and future for video gamers. The days of buying a gaming console like X-Box or PlayStation to attach to a television or computer are winding down as companies stream games from the Cloud.
Sony PlayStation Now already offers more than 750 games on demand, and Microsoft Project xCloud is in the works. There are many others, though not with names as well known. And then there is Google, which recently joined the club by announcing Stadia, set for a public release in late 2019.
However, Australians may not have access to Google Stadia, just as they are not able to access some of the current cloud gaming options. Any games that offer loot boxes or any types of in-game currency may not be able to market to Australians. This is due to current internet limitations, as well as crackdowns on some forms of online gaming. Most video games are not classified as online gaming, but the dividing line is sometimes thin.
Google Stadia to Offer Unique Cloud Gaming
Google has a distinct advantage over other cloud gaming services from the start because of its connections. Its Stadia service will be available through Google Chrome and integrated with YouTube, two huge perks for many gamers and streamers.
Stadia will be able to stream video games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and support high-dynamic range. Players will be able to use HID-class USB controllers. And the service will have a state share feature. Therefore, Stadia stream viewers can launch their own game on the service on the same save state as the streamer.
The main requirement to get the most out of Stadia, however, is fast internet; something Australia not well known for. Video gamers and online gaming fans already have a difficult time with the internet. So requirements for cloud gaming like Stadia might be too much at the current time.
For most video games that will be available on Stadia and other models in the cloud, Australian laws will not affect the content. Nevertheless, there are exceptions.
Classification of all video games is mandatory. Some games are classified as unsuitable for persons under the age of 18. Any games that refuse this process are banned. Those include many in the Grant Theft Auto series, Mortal Kombat, and one in the Fallout series. Games can also be banned for inappropriately handling drug use, sex, crime, and violence that offend the morality and decency standards set forth by the government.
As far as online gaming, which generally pertains to online poker and various casino games, the Australian Parliament passed the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001 to prohibit those forms of gaming for real money.
– IGA Amendment Bill 2016
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 took it further and cemented many of those prohibitions for companies without a license to operate in Australia. The only forms of gaming officially recognized and approved by the government are sports betting, some types of racing, and lottery games. Many online casino sites still accept Australian customers. But companies like PokerStars did pull out of the Australian market after this most recent law took effect in 2017.
For now, laws regulating online poker and casino games have not affected the video game industry. But there are features of some video games that have crossed the line, including those offering in-game purchases and loot boxes. The latter of which is something used in-game to store weapons, cheating codes, etc.
A recent study commissioned by the Australian Environment and Communications Reference Committee about loot boxes found that many who purchase them are more likely to develop real-money gambling habits in the future. Other studies have shown that loot boxes are akin to gambling in ways that predict harmful gambling tendencies.
Future of Cloud Gaming for Australians
Cloud gaming is the future of video games. Especially as more and more services like Google Stadia launch and become more popular around the world. Meanwhile, Australia’s internet shortfalls leave it out of the mix.
The popularity of video games, which often crosses the line into esports, will prompt fans of those games to find ways to play. And as they do, the crossover between cloud gaming, video and esports, and other forms of online gaming will necessitate the government to further clarify its stances on various forms of gaming. As well as how current laws fit with the needs and wants of the Aussie population.
It is a complicated scenario, but one that will have to be addressed.