Duncan fitted my kitchen.
He'd been in my house for about a week before we started talking video games, and he revealed to me his secret obsession with turn-based strategy games. He used to play big, complex PC strategy games in the 1990s. These days, he mostly just plays mobile free-to-play strategy titles. "They're not the same," he says. "But I don't have a gaming PC anymore."
I tried to convince him to get one. And he almost did, before he came to his senses. He wasn't going to splash out on an expensive computer just to play a new Total War game once a year.
Paula is my friend from school.
When we were kids, we used to play Doom a lot. She loved Doom. She lists it as one of her favourite things on Facebook. She really wants me to get Doom Eternal so we can play it together. She won't get it herself because she's not had a games console since her Xbox 360 suffered the Red Ring Of Death.
"The highest fidelity experience in gaming, for years, will be playing from a local device that has a direct connection to that television."
Phil Spencer, Xbox
When I think about Google Stadia, xCloud, PlayStation Now and all the other streaming platforms, I think of Duncan and Paula. Gamers, including myself, have no need for these services. Why would we? We've got more reliable consoles to play our games on, and probably will do for a while yet. It's a fact that Phil Spencer seemed to acknowledge with us at E3 last year.
"The highest fidelity experience in gaming, for years, will be playing from a local device that has a direct connection to that television, and a direct connection to your games," he said.
Game streaming isn't exciting because it gives console players a different platform to choose. It's exciting because it gives non-console players a way into the ecosystem without the barrier of having to buy expensive hardware. That's why publishers and developers are on-board with the idea.
Game streaming will have little appeal to core players
It's not just the Paulas and Duncans of the world that might be excited by cloud streaming. It's also markets like India and South Korea, which boast millions of gamers who largely don't own a console. Any audience where the console is a barrier to entry that's too big to overcome, Google Stadia and its competitors are the solution.
Bethesda's Pete Hines put it simply when we spoke to him last year:
"When you have folks who say: 'I'm never going to play Doom Eternal because I don't have a gaming PC and I'm not spending $400 for a console,' that's the end of the conversation. They're just not someone that I can reach out to for Doom Eternal. But if you know that on basically anything that has a screen you can suddenly stream a AAA, 60fps, 4K title, you're now a customer in a way that you simply hadn't been before.
"The number of people that applies to is hundreds of millions or billions. Now I'm not saying that everybody is going to convert to a $60 AAA consumer, but you're just opening yourself up to a lot more folks who don't have to jump through all the hoops of upgrading a PC all the time, or getting the new console, or paying for that big upfront cash outlay before the even buy a single game."
It's not that game streaming isn't going to interest core gamers at all. In fact, Xbox's plans to allow its console owners to stream their content to other devices so they can take their games with them will have some appeal (including the ability to put on glorified LAN parties). But it isn't the primary reason why the wider business is excited about the prospects of the technology. For them, it's about unlocking new gamers, not speaking to existing ones.