At GDC 2019 Google threw its hat into the gaming world, with the announcement of Google Stadia.
In Google’s eyes the future of gaming shouldn’t be restricted by the hardware whether it be a games console like Xbox or Playstation or a specced up PC, instead it should be accessible to anyone and everyone on a multitude of devices and screens.
Google Stadia is a cloud based game streaming service which is looking to combine YouTube and Google chrome. YouTube is a source for gaming videos and tutorials for many people and google is trying to leverage that viewership and its content creators to move from just watching to actually playing. Stadias’ aim is that you’ll be able to watch a clip of a game and then instantly play it or even launch to the very same point in the game of the clip you were watching. Streamers will be able to create lobbies for fans to join and play with them on YouTube, and Stadia will support instant clipping to the video service. This is a game console running in the cloud and built for the YouTube generation. Google chrome is the platform for which gamers will access Stadia and play games, as long as Google chrome is running Stadia will be able to stream games directly to you.
Google stadia all came about from Project Stream in 2018, when the tech giant made the Ubisoft game Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey available to play to trial participants via the Chrome web browser. It was this concept that was pushed further to form Google Stadia. All the processing power is done on the server side at Google’s data centers, gamers simply connect to the internet and play via their Chrome browser. Google doing all the hard work on the server side means players not having to foot the bill for expensive hardware. Google also revealed that its servers will be powered by a custom AMD GPU that will deliver 10.7 teraflops of power, which is more than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. The company has promised the service will offer games at 4K resolution, at 60 frames per second (fps) – and up to 8K, 120 fps in future. The crucial aspect for this to work is internet connection and lag. Having a decent connection will be vital to make the most of Stadia and avoid what streamers have experienced before which is lag in gameplay.
The announcement of Google stadia also came with the reveal of a dedicated controller. Whilst players can use current input devices they have from keyboards to console controllers, the dedicated device will have some advantages. It comes in a sleek design taking cues from the Xbox and playstation controllers. The main advantage is that the controller connects directly to the server via wifi from which your game is being streamed from. This further enhances the connection strength and aids to reducing lag. Along with that there are two buttons with extra features, one button to clip games and share and another giving access to google assistant, further utilising Goggles expertise in both search and YouTube.
The announcement of Google Stadia is a big step for Google and its vision for gaming but with comes many questions that have yet to be answered. Will it be a subscription service ala Netflix but for games or will it be a game purchase and play like an app store model? What is the pricing for the service and the controller? Who has signed up to Stadia to distribute and supply games? Will the smooth gameplay action seen at the keynote transfer to reality? Stadia is a ambitious vision and we will need to see how it all plays out and whether this really is a gamechanger the gaming world needs to take note of.
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