It’s official: Google is a gaming company (among other things). The company says the goal of its new Stadia game streaming service is to make it easy to game anywhere, any time.

You don’t need a high-end gaming PC. And you don’t even need to wait for a game to download.

Stadia works on PC web browesrs, phones, tablets, or smart TVs and you can begin playing right away.

Google says Stadia will launch later this year, and it will be available in the US, Canada, the UK, and most of Europe.

You can sign up for more information at at Stadia.com and developers can apply for early access at Stadia.dev.

As Google noted during its GDC keynote today, it wasn’t exactly a secret that the company was working on a game streaming service. Late last year Google launched a trial called Project Stream, which allowed participants to stream Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey to a web browser for free for a few months.

Project Stream as a test run that showed Google could stream a 1080p game at 60 frames per second. Google says Stadia should be able to support 4K video at 60 frames per second with HDR and surround sound support.

In the future the company plans to offer 8K, 120 fps support.

For now, the plan is to work with game developers to bring more games online, using Google’s cloud infrastructure to let users quickly begin playing on any device.

As an example, Google said you could watch a YouTube video related to Assassin’s Creed. Want to play? Click the “play” button and within 5 seconds you can start playing in the browser.

The idea is to let users click a link in a video or a website and start playing immediately.

In terms of software, Stadia runs a Linux-based operating system and use the Vulkan open source graphics API. It also supports the Unreal Engine, and Google’s pitch to developers is that they can code on Google’s cloud, their own cloud, or using desktop tools.

Google says Stadia is not a new game console that will compete with the PS4 or Xbox One. It’s a cloud service that works on your existing devices including desktops, laptops, TVs, and phones. And since the processing is all happening in the cloud, you don’t need a device with a powerful CPU or graphics card.

That said, Google did point out that it’s worked with AMD to develop custom hardware for Stadia, with each instance offering more computing power than a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined.

Google also noted that developers can choose to enable cross-platform play and game saves… although I do have to wonder how well this will work in practice. Obviously the goal is to offer as little latency as possible, but gamers who are playing on a local device are likely always going to have a slight edge in competitive games when playing against folks who are streaming games over the internet.

That said, Google does have one optional accessory that could help reduce latency. You can use your own gaming mice, keyboards, or controllers. But the new WiFi-enabled Stadia Controller connects directly to the game you’re playing over the internet rather than connecting to your phone, tablet or TV.

The controller also has a built-in capture button for saving and sharing your game session to YouTube. And there’s a Google Assistant button that lets you access Google’s voice assistant.

Oh, and you’ll be able to use that assistant to get game hints, among other things.

During the keynote, Google showed Stadia game streaming working on a Chromebook, a Chrome OS tablet, a smartphone, a cheap PC, and a TV (via a Chromecast).

When you start to think of games as things that you begin playing in the cloud by clicking a link, it also enables some interesting new possibilities. For example, Stadia supports a new feature called “State Share” that lets you share a game state with a custom URL.

For example, anyone would be able to click a URL to start a game from the exact point, with the exact same settings, inventory items, or other features. This would let gamers do things like issue challenges to other users (like “can you beat my speed run time when starting from the same spot?”).

Google says it’s already shipped Stadia hardware to more than a hundred game development studios and Google is launching its own in-house game development studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment.

As for where you’ll find Stadia games… it could be anywhere. Since all you need to do is click a link to get started, you may find Stadia-powered games anywhere on the web. But Google also plans to have its own game store.

developing…

 

 



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17 replies on “Google Stadia is a game streaming service for “any device””

  1. This sounds good, but what are the limitations? What is the minimum bandwidth needed? What countries will this be available in? How much will it cost and what publishers agreed to participate? Can I import savegames if I already own the game on another platform? Do I get any benefit from owning it on steam or on a console already?

  2. Cool tech but also dread in that if it takes off could really hurt other game platforms.

    Also Google has way too much power as it is.

  3. This isn’t netflix for games. It’s youtube for games…and probably with all the baggage that implies.
    Earlier, it didn’t occur to me that the only way to achieve extreme resolutions without spending thousands of dollars WAS to stream the game. I can just imagine the smug comments a few months from now. “Wow, look at this dweeb, he spent $3000 on a gaming pc he doesn’t even use all the time, when I just go to this site, click this one link, and BAM, I’m gaming at 4k, 60 fps **************! Who’s the master race now, *******? The future is streaming, get over it, Luddites!”
    Between comments like this and the pop-up ads with direct links to games that will probably start appearing in Chrome, aka the browser EVERYONE uses now, they have a strategy to win over every other platform. This could permanently kill off the idea that a game is meant to be a product.
    And that is scary to me. I think people should be free to choose what they experience and don’t experience. And when software is fixed, you experience the same thing every time you run it. You learn what it does, and it doesn’t change faster than you can learn it. When it does change, you usually have to let it, or make it, change. But websites change without you asking and without your approval. And when people get used to things changing all the time without their approval, they become less able to stop changes when they’re bad.
    Consider youtube. I haven’t really encountered anyone who genuinely likes the current state of youtube, it’s nothing but complaints now. But there’s no viable alternatives. Do we really want to let the games market become youtube?

    1. I hear your concerns and I share them. But to be honest, current games are more like a service than a product anyways. You don’t really buy physical media, and even when you do, you’ll have to download several GB of patches the first day you install it, because all new games ship as a beta. You also don’t get full games anymore, most games have half the content blocked by a paywall either with DLC or with a leveling system that requires you to pay several times the price of the game in microtransactions to progress or to play it for a ridiculously long time, essentially making gaming a chore and taking away all the fun. And for the cherry on the top: most current games rely on servers, essentially making them cloud based games anyways, even in solo mode, the moment the publisher turns off the server, your game ceases to function. So with this, we can keep all this, but don’t have to own an expensive hardware. To be honest, I don’t even mind. I have such a huge backlog of games I own and never played, and _want to play_, that I’m probably set for the next 10 years even if I don’t buy a new game from today on. Let the industry collapse a bit, weed out the trash (khmm… EA), and recover, meanwhile I hibernate in my little cave with my 1TB HDD full of good-old-offline-games.

      *let the downvotes come, but if you vote me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!

  4. Was part of the Beta, and it was pretty impressive tech. That name though . . . ick! It sounds like a cholesterol medication (and yes, I Googled and know that it’s a surveying tool. Still . . .). Very curious to hear whether or not it’s going to be a Netflix style library of games or if it’s going to be a pay per title setup.

    I’d totally go for Netflix style. But if I have to pay for individual games, I’d rather own them outright in a manner that can be played offline.

    1. It seems like Stadia is basically the underlying technology and it’ll be up to game developers to figure out how to charge — although since they’ll have to pay for the streaming technology on an ongoing basis, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this used for game rentals or subscriptions rather than for straight-up purchases. Google or another company could also use it as a platform for a Netflix-for-games service, but that’s not what Stadia itself seems to be at this point.

  5. If anyone can make onlive work, it’d be google. But the fact that they’re featuring a controller with latency in mind tells me it’s still an issue. I wouldn’t even think about trying multiplayer, but if I could play fallout 4 on my moto z with a motomod controller and at least not have issues targeting raiders or sniping, that could be cool. I have my doubts. I’ve streamed games from steam from PC to mobile on the same wifi, but only turn based games, nothing where latency would matter. It never even occurred to me try an rpg or shooter. Streaming from a far off service?

  6. This looks like a great alternative to upgrading my WinTel computer’s Motherboard, CPU, RAM and Video Card every few years.

  7. We don’t allow any Google products in our home…so this is dead in the water from the very beginning for us.

      1. You can use Android without being enslaved to Google, just use a Custom Rom, and tailor it to you. DuckDuckGo for Search.
        And you’re set !

  8. Google’s past is going to start haunting them. Are developers going to dive in with both feet? The list of abandoned “projects” by Google can’t be ignored. To show up one day and say you’re going to be bigger and better than the established brands is somewhat comical.

  9. Because of the latency and input delay, do you think it will be possible?
    So that you can play fast shooters like on the PC or on the console and also ideal for competitive gaming.

  10. I wonder when Google will kill this off and replace it with something else like the rest of their products in the last several years.

    While I’m sure my internet connection isn’t up to snuff anyway, I’ll wait a few years.

    1. I have a suspicion, that this thing might give the Base Xbox One a decent comparison, it’s going to fall flat compared to the PS5 and Xbox V which should arrive around the same time as the Google Stadia hits the market.

      Forget about Desktop PC’s… even a midrange CPU, GPU, and regular monitor/kbd/mouse is going to offer richer graphics (no compression) with faster visuals (fps) and much smoother/better/less User Latency (ms).

      Remember, Google Stadia might work decent for a few people…. for most, the experience will suck.
      It’s like the difference of buying food ingredients, cooking them at home and eating it (sure, it requires users to pay more upfront, putting some time/effort in). Versus having someone else cooking it at another house and then snail-mailing the food to you, one bite-piece at a time.

  11. I still can remember when someone at Google explained Google+ was not a social network but a hub to the web … while it was actually a social network.

    Right now they start the same path, saying Stadia Pro is not a game streaming platform … while everybody can see it.

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