Google has announced its daring new entry into the gaming market — Google Stadia. Google made the announcement at this years Game Developers Conference (GDC) and it’s a game streaming service which streams games in 4K HDR at 60FPS to any device, anywhere. No console necessary.
It’s a bold move from the search giant but not a surprising one. We’ve long suspected that Google would do ‘something’ in the gaming space; potentially a console. Turns out it wasn’t a console but a whole new streaming platform.
But game streaming is a tried and mostly failed endeavour. PlayStation Now, Geforce Now and the defunct Onlive are a few examples of this. The challenges of internet lag and technical infrastructure to support streaming games has always been a huge problem.
Google has brought its considerable resources to bear and believes it has solved this problem.
Google Stadia — A game platform for everyone
Google Stadia works as long as you have access to a device capable of running Chrome browser and a fast internet connection. No new box needed. Google Stadia will work seamlessly on phones, tablets, PC’s and TV’s with no extra hardware.
Google says a 30Mbps connection is sufficient to play Stadia games at 4K 60FPS with HDR and 25Mbps for 1080p at 60FPS. Basically if you can watch Netflix in 4K, you can game on Stadia. This is an incredible technical achievement.
Google has a vast cloud infrastructure with 7500 data nodes around the globe dedicated to Stadia. This will vastly cut down lag by simply reducing the distance to players.
But putting connectivity issues aside, 4K 60FPS gaming requires some serious horsepower. Google Stadia will have a network of powerful data centers with fastest possible hard drives and processors. A new AMD sourced GPU with 10.7 Teraflops of power will sit at the heart of Stadia.
For comparison, the PS4 Pro has 4.6 Teraflops and the Xbox One X has 6 Teraflops of power. So not only will you be able to play at highest resolutions but Stadia can simultaneously livestream to YouTube at 4K 30FPS.
One thing is very clear; Google wants Stadia to work seamlessly with YouTube. At the GDC presentation, we saw how this would work. A video trailer of Assassins Creed Odyssey had a ‘Play Now’ button. Clicking it immediately loaded the game for play. Google claims a 5 sec load.
What’s more is Google showed off Share States. This allows you to share your game state via a link. Then others can then jump into the same game and play the same level or boss that you are. Impressive.
Crowd Play targets content creators and streamers. It allows viewers to join a Livestream and start playing with the streamer. So when a streamer is playing Apex Legends for example, players can join the queue to play with them.
And remember, you can do this anytime, from any device which is really mind bending.
Google suggests that the Stadia infrastructure will open up possibilities for games like Apex Legends or Fortnite to go beyond the current limit of 100 players per session. Think ten thousand player battle royales. It’s truly fascinating.
Google Stadia Controller
Google also announced the Stadia Controller, the only real Stadia specific hardware. It’s WiFi enabled so that it can connect directly to Stadia servers. You can then control your games irrespective of the screen you’re using. While it’s not necessary for Google Stadia to work, it does have some handy tricks.
Firstly, it has a dedicated Google Assistant button of course. This allows you to get help from the game developers without ever leaving the game experience. The other button is for instant game capture and sharing to YouTube.
The Google Stadia controller looks like a cross between a DualShock 4 and Nintendo Switch Pro controller. It will come in three colors similar to the Google Pixel Phones.
No pricing was announced but Google Stadia will be available this year in the U.S, U.K and parts of Europe to start with word on when it will come to Australia.
Check out the video below for a quick summary of everything Google announced.