Google doesn’t have a unique vision for streaming games.
Several companies have tried or are still trying to launch similar game-streaming services, but so far all have failed to reach a massive scale.
“There have been several companies that have jumped into this space over the years from a variety of angles, but as far as I can tell, the only one left standing that’s got a significant paying subscriber base in Western markets at least, is Sony’s PlayStation Now service,” IDC’s Ward said.
Sony’s PlayStation Now costs $99 per year or $19.99 per month. It lets gamers stream more than 750 PS4, PS3 and PS2 games to a PS4 or a PC. This might be the closest competition to what Google is planning, but it still requires specialized hardware. You can’t stream to any phone, tablet or other device of your choice.
NVIDIA also offers a similar service called GeForce Now that works on Macs, PCs and NVIDIA’s own Android-based Shield console for TVs. The service includes a library of 400 games, which normally require beefy graphics cards and expensive gaming rigs to play. But GeForce Now is limited in scope and is still considered a beta product.
Finally, a start-up called OnLive that launched several years ago promised to let people stream games to any device, but ultimately failed to gain enough subscribers to stay in business. The company shut down in 2015 and sold its remaining business assets to Sony.
Google may be next in line to fail.
“I believe Google will have a tremendously hard time pulling off a successful paid game streaming service,” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told CNBC. “It has middling success with paid music, movies and books, so my expectations are low.”
But Husson said Google at least has a good foundation in place.
“It is no surprise to see Google invest in the space,” Husson said. “The fact they recently announced the recruitment of Jade Raymond, [formerly of] Ubisoft and EA, is a clear sign they want attract gaming publishers. They already have a massive developer ecosystem thanks to the success of games on the Android platform. Now is the time to signal to the market they too are serious are about cloud gaming.”