Google Announces Stadia — A New Game Streaming Platform Releasing in 2019
Google has announced its long rumoured first foray into the larger games market with Stadia — a brand new streaming-only platform that will debut sometime in 2019. The announcement was made at the company’s keynote at GDC 2019, and included a look at how Stadia stacks up against the competition.
In a presentation that was heavy on tech and innovation — this was at the Game Developers Conference, after all — Google has certainly caused a stir. Their new platform means that games can be played on anything with a Chrome browser; streamed over the internet at 60 frames per second with a 4K resolution at launch. It’s scalable too, with 720p and 1080p also available and the capability to run at 8K in the future.
A cloud-based platform, Google’s Stadia has no traditional console or PC involvement. Instead, games will run from Google data centres that are located all over the world. Working with AMD, the company has created a server with 10.7 teraflops of power — a stat that will make developers drool. This is more power than a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined, with the entire backbone of a ‘traditional’ system contained in the cloud.
Google has taken a three-pronged approach to Stadia, building a platform that benefits players, content creators and developers. Some of the development tools shown off looked incredible, and Google wants to help developers get involved with Stadia. For content creators, YouTube is to become an even bigger player in the streaming space. Games are easily streamed to YouTube with no impact on play, and features like a ‘play now’ button at the end of a video will take players into games “in as quick as five seconds… no download”. For players, getting into games is as easy as the above. And the portability and scalability of Stadia is something to be applauded. First- and second-party games are coming too, with Google Stadia Games and Development — a first party studio — being headed up by industry veteran Jade Raymond.
The hour long presentation also included the reveal of a controller. The Stadia controller connects directly to the game server via Wi-Fi and the power of the cloud. This is designed to reduce latency even more than Google have proven they can in recent public tests. Current console controllers can also be used, but the focus was very much on Google’s own tech. Understandable.
Demos showed the tech running smoothly — although not flawlessly — during the presentation. It’s here that the presentation got really interesting. The tech working, and working well, is one thing. The innovative ways to play and develop games that Google plans to bring to the table are something else.
Other features highlighted in the presentation include:
Players can not only share a screen with a friend, they can literally host a window of another player’s game on their screen whilst they’re playing.
Put simply, State Share is the ability to literally save and share the exact moment you just played in a game and have someone else play it. Q Games’ Dylan Cuthbert explains he has developed a game specifically based on this tech.
Crowd Play will allow those streaming games via YouTube to allow other players to seamlessly enter their games for multiplayer. It gives gaming content creators an incredibly easy way to interact with their audience.
The technology behind Stadia had those in attendance applauding consistently. The way Google talked about this project would seemingly make games as easily shareable as a YouTube video. That kind of accessibility was paramount to this reveal.
Google is determined to make people believe in this service, that much is certain. We’ll hear more in the summer apparently — E3 perhaps? — but, at the moment, there’s a lot to process. The details shared during this event are only the tip of the iceberg: Pricing, recommended broadband speeds, and lots of other factors are yet to be discussed. Regardless, Google has made their presence known with Stadia.