At the 2019 Game Developers Conference (FDC) conference in San Francisco, Google today unveiled Stadia, a multi-platform online game streaming service. It will debut sometime this year, first in the US, Canada, the UK and most of Europe.
The service will allow you to play games transmitted by Google's data centers on your devices, but they will have to run your Chrome browser or ChromeOS platform, or if your TV needs to be connected to a Chromecast Ultra.
You will not need any other material to run Stadia, and you will not need to install some software to play games. As Vice President Google pointed out Phil Harrison in an interview in Eurogamer, "Wherever YouTube runs properly, then Stadia can run".
Google reports that it is already broadcasting test games with 1080p and 60 fps, and expects to surpass the 4K resolution on 60 fps, along with HDR support and surround sound.
How will it work?
Google hosts its cloud and data centers around the world on specialized Linux-based computers that will be equipped with a 2,7 GHz processor combined with 16 GB of RAM and a custom GPU made by AMD. It will provide 10,7 teraflops of processing power so that you can run the games you choose to play without any problems. To understand, this is more than just a PS4 Pro and an Xbox One X.
The company says it will make the games available across the web: you can click the "Play" button while watching a game stream on YouTube to start a new round or open a link that takes you to a specific point of a game your friend was playing or to start a new game from the Stadia store. Google deliberately left a game on one device during the FDC conference demo and continued it seamlessly with another device from where it left off.
Optional: Stadia Controller
Google also presented a controller designed for the new service. It looks like most of the market controls, but includes buttons for two new features. The Capture button starts a stream of your game, directly on YouTube, and the Assistant button lets you call a feature set using your voice and the built-in microphone for a summary of the level you're stuck in.
You will not need the presence of the Stadia control to perform the service. Google notes that you can use almost any control that is compatible with your device. However, in addition to the above-mentioned features, it can improve your experience by reducing the delay, thanks to its ability to connect directly to the cloud over Wi-Fi.
The vision for Stadia
The idea behind Stadia, explained by Google, is essentially a platform to support the next generation of games, which will cover not only the cloud game streaming service, but it will support developers and game publishers with a range of features that will allow players to share their experience and be able to invite other players.
Google noted that it has been working secretly on this technology for years and benefits from the network of most of 7.500 nodes worldwide to offer this service from the cloud. The goal is to bring high quality games to a wide range of devices and allow users to enjoy them with whatever device it suits them.
Along with Stadia's presentation, Google also announced the new Stadia Games and Entertainment, a studio that will develop games for this platform. Studio manager Jade Raymond, a former game industry veteran who worked for EA and Ubisoft.
And if the name Stadia reminds you of something Greek, you are not wrong. This is the Greek word Stadia.
- Stadia (@GoogleStadia) March 19th 2019
Integrate with YouTube
Instead of making Stadia a completely independent service, Google wants users to use it on and off YouTube. This means that the starting point for Stadia could be a game trailer on the video platform or a live stream of a tournament. you could simply tap Play on a streaming video and start playing - individually or with others - in seconds.
A feature called State Share will allow you to invite others (your friends, your YouTube audience or followers to social media) to play a game from a specific point by simply sending a link.
Google also explained that you will be able to use the Assistant to look for tips on YouTube, and the service will find out and show you the exact part of a video to help you get out of the way you are in any game.
Is this the future of games?
There are still many unknowns about Google's new business. As noted above, we do not yet have a complete look at how well Stadia works. Also, we do not know when exactly 2019 will start and what it will cost. Moreover, it only opens in some countries and it is not clear how long the company will need to expand more widely around the world.
More generally, it is safer to say that important factors that will determine whether Stadia will be successful and revolutionize games are visual fidelity as well as flow delay. If Google can overcome these two retreats, which seemed extremely difficult with previous similar services like OnLive, about a decade ago, it could have an exciting product in its hands.
From what we saw from today's announcement is that Google has very good ideas for the next game age. The weather will show if he can make this amazing dream come true.
In the following video you can watch Google's announcement on Stadia: