With the copious amount of rumours that Google intends to make a big splash in gaming, the Google GDC keynote was greatly anticipated. Earlier on today (19th March) these rumours were confirmed, with Google announcing Stadia, a game streaming service due to launch later this year.
An onstage demo showed off the platform streaming from laptop to phone to desktop to TV, seamlessly, picking up from where the presenter stopped on each device without any issues in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Any device with Google Chrome can connect you to Stadia, allowing you to stream games without the need of local, dedicated hardware.
Stadia will support 4K, HDR, 60 fps at launch, with another 4K, HDR, 60 fps video stream also recording to YouTube, allowing you to play games with no compromises and stream it at its best. In theory, if your internet connection is fast and stable enough, it will feel like playing on a powerful, local computer.
With this being streaming, hardware won’t be a concern at all, with high-end graphics possible on any and all Chrome compatible devices. And with Stadia servers packing a punch when it comes to raw power, it could theoretically allow developers to create games with no constraints.
Google’s worldwide infrastructure facilitates this streaming technology, and with Google’s impressive coverage and countless data centres, it has the potential to reach a huge audience. However, your internet speed and stability is going to very much determine how this service works for you, and right now, while last year’s Project Stream showed off Stadia during its development and it worked well, this seamless streaming of games is still theoretical until the platform actually launches.
Additionally, Stadia is set to link with YouTube in a big way, allowing content creators to play with their audience during streams. This was shown off with 2K Game’s NBA2K, where viewing watching a stream could join a queue to play against or with the streamer.
Stadia will launch later this year (2019) and supports mouse and keyboard, as well as Xbox or PlayStation controllers. However, Google’s also releasing their own Stadia-specific controller which will work quite differently to traditional ones. Instead of connecting to a local device and then sending input data to Stadia data centres, it instead connects via Wi-Fi directly to the data centre.
If it all works as well as Google intends, then this could be pretty exciting, and certainly challenges other platform holders to up their game. But with rumours of Xbox also launching a streaming service this year, the competition could be ready to kick off, which is always fun to watch.