By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
March 21, 2019

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Gaming is the $130 billion business most grownups know nothing about but technologists love. For tech types, gaming has it all: nerdery, bandwidth, pretty pictures, and easy-to-understand applications of complicated technology.

The news of the week is that Google will offer a cloud-based gaming service called Stadia, one of several hoped-for “Netflix of gaming” products to hit the market. Instead of needing a high-powered PC, gamers will be able to play games with complex video effects on almost any device—a phone, TV set, or laptop—while the actual game program runs on Google’s cloud servers. Critics say it isn’t clear how well Stadia will work, what the economics will be, or even when exactly Google will flip the switch. No matter. Like Amazon, with the popular Twitch service it bought, and Microsoft, a significant player through its Xbox franchise and which also plans a “Netflix for ..” offering dubbed xCloud, Google wants its own cloud gaming entry.

It’s no wonder that Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, in reverse order, happen to be the biggest cloud services companies in the United States. Cloud gaming is a killer app and a way to pump profitable activity through capital-intensive cloud platforms.

Gaming also has shown up as an unlikely savior for cryptocurrencies. Fortune’s Jen Wieczner traveled to Hong Kong last week for the optimistically named Token 2049 conference and came back with this insight: one of the few applications “crypto” technologists are excited about is for payments in games.

This strikes me as grasping at straws. All this sound and fury for video games?

Oh well, unlike cryptocurrencies and blockchain software, at least gaming is a legitimately big business. And it’s fun too.

Adam Lashinsky


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