Stadia: Google’s game-streaming service could revolutionise the industry
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Stadia: Google’s game-streaming service could revolutionise the industry

Philipp Rüegg
Zurich, on 19.03.2019
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
Google’s new game-streaming service is called Stadia. Any machine running Chrome can access it and play blockbusters such as «Assassins Creed Odyssey» in up to 4K quality.

With Project Stream’s closed beta, everyone knew Google was planning something big in regards to gaming. The titan of searching has now unveiled their creation at GDC, a game developer’s conference in San Francisco.

The service, called Stadia, is said to launch this year. It will be available on any machine running the Chrome browser. According to Google, this is a theoretical 2 billion devices. Simply open a browser tab and get gaming. No loading times, no annoying updates, but up to 4K resolution and 60 fps with HDR and Surround Sound, in short: the ultimate achievement. No expensive hardware or consoles – any smartphone, SmartTV or even an old MacBook can suffice.

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Google promises that AAA games such as «Assassin's Creed Odyssey» or «Doom Eternal» will be playable «without quality loss». Even head designer at ID Software Marty Stratton himself vouched for this: «We were wary initially whether the technology was suited to a game like «Doom».» Now Marty promises that his next trip to hell will be playable on Stadia at 4K/60 with HDR. The game benefits from using the same graphics engine as Stadia, namely Vulcan.

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This magic trick is made possible by Google’s gigantic data centres all around the world. Games won’t need to be processed on your hardware. The work is done at the data centre and the only thing at your end is the video output. To do this, 10.7 Teraflops of graphics performance will be available to you. To put this into perspective: PS4 Pro and Xbox One X make it to 4.2 and 6.0 respectively. An RTX 2080 Ti offers a bit more at 14.2 Teraflops, but this is ignoring the price.

That’s not all. Google’s keynote last Tuesday evening was jam-packed with exciting features set to make a lasting change in the gaming industry.

The key features

The controller

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Google developed a new controller for Stadia. It uses the same analog stick layout as a PS4 controller. It additionally has two extra buttons: the capture button allows for recording and sharing or streaming videos the other button activates Google Assistant, with developers being able to integrate the feature in their games. For this and many other functions, the controller is also equipped with an integrated microphone.

Instant Play from Youtube

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Open the browser, choose a game and play. This is the simplicity Google introduces Stadia with. An even bigger feature could be the ability to open games from YouTube. While watching your favourite Youtuber play a new game or a game trailer, you will be able to press the «Play Game» button next to the video and jump in-game yourself in about five seconds.

Crossplay

Google is promising complete open access with other platforms. Every developer wanting to offer crossplay will be able to do this – including synchronised game saves.

Smooth transitions

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As the games run on Google’s servers, you will be able to switch from your notebook to your phone without any interruptions.

Split-screen couch co-op

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Games with split-screen require more processing power. According to Google, this is why developers often decide against it. Stadia eliminates this problem. Couch co-op players are rejoicing.

Share scenes from a game

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The feature called «State Share» could have a massive effect on how we share game scenes with each other. It was presented by Dylan Cuthbert, head of Q-Games, known for «PixelJunk» among other things. He used their new game «Nom Nom Galaxy» to premiere «State Share». This allows moments from games to be shared as links. Whoever clicks that link will be transported to that exact moment and can continue from there.

Livestreaming

Recording or streaming games shall be easier than ever with Stadia. As they’re processed server-side, you only need to press one button and streaming will begin. All recorded in 4K/60, of course.

Crowdplay

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With Crowdplay, you’ll be able to join a multiplayer game that you are currently watching a livestream of. With the press of a button, you’ll land in the lobby(‘s queue). «NBA2K» was used to illustrate this. It’s the perfect tool for streamers looking to interact more with their audience.

Walkthrough with Google Assistant

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Google Assistant will be accessible at a press of a controller button. The game won’t be interrupted. If you get stuck in a game, you can just ask the Assistant and it will show you a relevant video. The example was a tomb puzzle from «Shadow of the Tomb Raider». You won’t have to Alt-Tab out to access your browser or grab your phone.

Support for established graphical engines

Stadia will fully support Unreal Engine, Unity as well as Havok. These important and popular tools will be made available to game developers.

Google’s very own game studio

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Most people already knew that famous developer Jade Raymond jumped ship to Google. Now we know what she’s been up to. She will head the new studio Stadia Games and Entertainment, which will develop first-party games for Google.

Over 100 developers already have their hands on Stadia. Google announced that the service will launch in 2019 in the USA, Canada, Great Britain and most of Europe. The cynic in me assumes that Switzerland will again not be a part of this. The cost or games catalogue has not been announced yet. New information will be ready in the summer.

What do you think? Is Google about to revolutionise the games industry or is the tech giant just playing us?

Streaming games with Stadia

What do you think about Google Stadia?

  • It'll be the greatest thing ever
    32%
  • I'm skeptical
    22%
  • It'll be a flop
    7%
  • Sounds promising
    37%

The competition has ended.

82 people like this article


Philipp Rüegg
Philipp Rüegg
Senior Editor, Zurich
Being the game and gadget geek that I am, working at digitec and Galaxus makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop – but it does take its toll on my wallet. I enjoy tinkering with my PC in Tim Taylor fashion and talking about games on my podcast . To satisfy my need for speed, I get on my full suspension mountain bike and set out to find some nice trails. My thirst for culture is quenched by deep conversations over a couple of cold ones at the mostly frustrating games of FC Winterthur.

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