Will game streaming ever be viable in Nigeria?


Google has announced the introduction of a free tier to its video game streaming service, Google Stadia. Launched in November of last year, the service allows its users to stream games from the Google servers directly to their device of choice, be that a phone, tablet, PC or TV. This makes it possible for low-end PCs to run even the most graphically demanding games, as the only real system requirements are the Google Chrome browser, a compatible game pad and a strong internet connection.

The service was previously only accessible to those that purchased the $130 Founder’s Edition hardware kit, which included a proprietary game pad and three months subscription to the $10/month Stadia Pro subscription plan, a two-month free trial of which comes with the current free-tiered subscription. But after a very messy debut and a low adoption rate, it was only a matter of time before the company adopted the freemium model with the hopes of enticing users.

Google Stadia

While Nigeria is not one of the 12 countries in which the service is currently accessible, it does raise the question about its viability in a country like ours. Anyone who has tried to get any kind of work or play done online since the lockdown began can attest to the overall sluggishness of our internet over here.

Sure we can blame the current speeds on the networks struggling to cope with the increased demand of everyone at home using their phones and computers to access the internet all at once. But those speeds have never been stellar to begin with.

On average, our internet speeds sit at around 1.4Mbps. Not bad you might say. That’s definitely fast enough to stream standard-definition (480p) videos off YouTube with minimal buffering. But when you consider the fact that Stadia requires a connection speed of at least 10Mbps, it becomes clear that we are severely lacking.

Microsoft Project xCloud

Even if we could somehow manage to hit the minimum required speeds, the fact remains that most of our subscription plans are metered, and data caps for the typical plan tend to be ridiculously low. By Google’s own estimates, a one hour session of playing games on Stadia would consume up to 12.6GB at 1080p resolution, while playing at 4K would consume upwards of 20GB. I currently use a 75GB/month plan. If I was to use this to stream Stadia games, all my data would be depleted in a few short hours. That’s not practical at all.

It is for these very reasons that I firmly believe game streaming is simply not viable in Nigeria, and much of the wider world in fact. But with 5G currently on its way, perhaps there is a future where it becomes at the very least a possibility. That’s assuming 5G isn’t used to enslave us all of course.

5G conspiracy theory infograph

Jokes aside, what do you think about game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud opening up to countries like Nigeria in the future? Would you be willing to hop on the bandwagon with the right connection speeds and data plans? Let us know in the comments section below.