At GDC 2019, Google unveiled its teased gaming platform, Stadia, a cloud-based streaming service posied to be a platform for everyone. With the goal of streaming all types of games from triple-A to indies over the web or Google-powered devices and is launching later 2019.
To achieve Google’s goals of running high-end visuals across many devices starts with Google’s own data centers. Alongside AMD, Google built computers that output 10.7 teraflops of computing power that rivals both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One, all while churning through a 2.7 GHz processor and 16 GBs of RAM. That off-site power allows players to only require a high-speed internet connection to play any game, DOOM Eternal, for example, to play at 4K HDR at 60 fps on any screen in their home.
Another of Stadia stand out features is being backed by YouTube. Namely the ability to click links from a YouTube video to immediately start playing. Players can even tap one button to clip, share or stream directly to YouTube. The Stadia platform is even leveraging the Youtube community by linking players to save states called State Share, meaning new players can click on the link and enter a game at a specific point. Lastly is a feature called Crowd Play, that opens a lobby system for content creators to quickly set up a match with their fans.
While Google’s Stadia doesn’t have a “box” that platform exists on, Google wanted to enhance the experience with a controller called Stadia Controller. While the controller emulates most modern controllers, one of its newest additions include a share button. While a share button is not new to this generation of gaming consoles, it is enhanced by YouTube’s sharing additions. The other button takes the form of the Google Assistant button that uses the onboard mic to most likely start games or looking up video walkthrough for the specific moments player are in.
Part of the bigger push to get players excited about Google’s new foray into gaming. Plenty of industry veterans have joined the Google ranks to boost hype. Notably, former PlayStation and Mircosoft executive Phil Harrison was brought on as Google’s vice president and general manager, clearly for carrying top positions that also include Atari and Gaikai, another game-streaming cloud service before being bought by PlayStation.
Another high profile name is Jade Raymond of Ubisoft fame. With her most recent job being a designer and writer for EA’s canceled Star Wars and early days as part of Sony Online’s R&D team, Google’s hire for VP of their first party game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment is a smart move.
Some of Stadia’s apparent confirmed developer support include id software by way of DOOM Eternal and the dev’s engine, Vulkin, as well as Unreal and Unity from their respective owners. The presentation included many instances of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey running.
There are many new features for Google’s Stadia that include:
- No box, streams from Chrome Web Browser, Pixel phones, Android TV and Chromecast devices.
- Seamless keyboard and mouse support
- Use any USB controller
- Stadia internet access does not go through public channels, cutting down on latency
- Stadia controller also connects straight to data centers to limit lag.
- No public access meaning no cheating or hacking is possible on the system
- 8K resolution and 120 frames per second support in the future
- Crossplay in the future
- 1000+ developers with Stadia dev kits
- Google’s machine-learning allows devs to “re-skin” games with any image
- Also allows devs to use intense physics engines and thousands of “cameras” in one game world
- Emulates spilt-screen with each screen being its’ own “Stadia instance”
- While Stadia’s game store is in Google’s Play Store, dynamic web links used on any site allows players to buy games and start playing from anywhere, without a typical game launcher.
- Stadia is a plural noun for a stadium, a sports arena with tiers of seats for spectators.
Check out the Stadia announcement recap trailer below:
Author’s Take: This is an unprecedented, hyper-connected vision of gaming. While I always been one to denounce efforts of cloud gaming due to unrealistic expectations due to fragmented internet access and questionable ownership of games. But these announcements target every nearly single concern about the future of gaming. GameStop and LE collectors must be pissed.
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