Ever since Project Stream was announced, people have been expecting Google to announce something big with regard to gaming. And at this year’s GDC, those expectations were paid off. Google announced the launch of their upcoming Stadia platform, which is a cloud-based streaming service with the promise of instant access to the latest video games anytime, anywhere.
It is here that was revealed that last year’s Project Stream was only a stepping stone in Stadia’s development. Game developer Ubisoft partnered with Google to have Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey be the first game on the platform. That project was an essential milestone for Google, proving that AAA-games with intense graphics could be streamed in real-time over the internet, without any noticeable lag. Many industry reporters were able to get access to the project, and the reviews were positive.
This led Google to lay down the foundation & principles of Stadia- Instant Access. Google Stadia, much like Microsoft’s xCloud, aims to distribute games over a cloud service accessible to virtually anyone, regardless of whether they own a high-end PC or a console. Here’s
Is Stadia A Console?
Simple answer – No. Stadia is a cloud-based platform. In essence, the data center that Google will use for the service will be the “console”. Google has partnered with AMD to power these data centers to provide far better performance than the current consoles. With 10.7 Teraflops of graphical power running through the platform, it aims to challenge the notion of a traditional console head-on.
How Is The Performance?
Last year’s project stream let players play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey at 60fps with a resolution of 1080p. That’s pretty great for a service that is entirely cloud-based. And with Stadia, Google aims to push that even further. Stadia will let you stream games at 4K 60fps, with support for 8K 120 fps being worked on. That alone should let you breathe easy about not having to buy a high-end PC, as the platform will support any device with Chrome on it. Initial reports about the performance is good, but if Google does manage to reach the target it has set for itself, it’s surely going to revolutionise gaming.
What About The Controller?
While you will be able to plug in any peripheral to your device for input, Google has designed a custom controller to provide additional features. As seen in the image above, the controller ergonomics have been taken directly from the PS4’s DualShock 4 and the Xbox One controller. However, there are a few notable changes. For one, the inclusion of a Google Assistant button tells us that Google will be pushing their AI system across the platform. The search giant has also said that it plans to include customer support for the platform.
What About Crossplay? And Pricing?
Yes, Google has announced that Stadia will indeed support crossplay. As the platform is built on the idea of streaming games on multiple devices, it makes sense to support crossplay. The company has said that it is working with the leading developers in the industry to achieve that goal. Apart from that, Google has also built its own studio Stadia Games and Entertainment, which will develop first-party exclusives for the platform.
As for pricing or availability, details are scarce right now. We expect the first phase of Stadia to kick into gear later this year, with pricing announcements following soon. We’re expecting a monthly subscription model, much like Netflix or Microsoft’s Game Pass.
As it is a cloud platform, we expect Google to launch the service in planned phases across the world. As such, Google would also have to invest in more data centers in order to improve connectivity and reduce any input lag. After all, seamlessness is one of the key aspects of the service.