The big day is here. In less than an hour, Google will reveal some kind of gaming news at the Game Developers Conference. Exactly what that will be remains to be seen, as Google has been extremely vague in its teases. However, it seems safe to assume that what we’ll see is a cloud gaming service and possibly some kind of related hardware, possibly named Google Stream (more on that below). This has been the suspicion since the company first teased an announcement for GDC 2019, given its public experiments with cloud gaming.
This being Google, it could be major news–cloud gaming is a big part of gaming’s future, and a massive company getting involved has the potential to shake things up for the industry. With all of that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the essential information regarding both Google’s keynote event and some things to know about cloud gaming. We’ll update this once the news from Google, whatever it turns out to be, is announced in the next few hours. It seems to have tipped its hand just before the event, however, emailing testers from the Project Stream beta and encouraging them to watch the stream. This is accompanied by the tease, “Come see how you helped create one place for all the ways we play.”
The stream is now live, and it started out with Google CEO Sundar Pichai talking about how the company has been experimenting with streaming game technology for several years. He explained how the goal is to essentially create a streamlined experience where you can play on any device at any time, without any of the hassle. He also confirmed the name for the service: Stadia. We’re waiting for further details, but a sizzle trailer did offer a quick glimpse at what looks like the Stadia controller, pictured below.
Ex-Sony exec Phil Harrison, previously announced as joining the company, came on stage after Pichai to talk about the Project Stream test with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. He proposed a possible usage for Stadia, where you could be watching video of a game on YouTube and then click a link and begin playing that game in your browser within a few seconds.
Google GDC Livestream And Time
Provided you’re eager to find out what Google is up to as soon as possible, you’ll be able to watch the Google livestream from the event. The Google keynote takes place on March 19 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 5 PM GMT (4 AM AET on March 20).
As for what to expect, Google recently shared a teaser video showing off various environments. It also said the event would “unveil Google’s vision for the future of gaming.” It didn’t get any more specific than that, and we figure it could be tied to the Project Stream service we saw previously. Whatever, the case, it seems like some kind of hardware will be part of the reveal, considering Google has display cases set up at GDC. (Unless it just wants to show that you don’t need hardware to play games with the cloud. Who knows at this point?)
Trademark filings aren’t always evidence of anything, as companies oftentimes secure them and then don’t make any use of them. But Google’s new service, whatever it is exactly, might be called Google Stream, based on a recently filed trademark application. Based on the outline of the goods and services it will provide (which always tends to be rather vague), it certainly seems to fit the bill for a cloud gaming service.
Ubisoft Is Involved, Maybe
Ubisoft has added to the hype by retweeting Google’s message about the impending announcement with the eyes emoji. That could be as simple as a community manager being excited or wanting to drum up some engagement, but it stands to reason that Ubisoft could be involved with Google Stream, or whatever this announcement is. The two companies collaborated on Project Stream last year, which saw public testing where people could play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey right through their browser. Perhaps it was a one-off rather than the start of a long-term relationship, but with a rival publisher like EA experimenting with its own streaming technology, Ubisoft might see value in partnering up with Google to distribute its games.
Why Is Cloud Gaming A Big Deal?
Cloud gaming isn’t new by any means; PlayStation Now, for instance, has been around for a while. But we’re finally reaching the point at which it stands to become a more significant component of how games are distributed. That doesn’t necessarily mean cloud gaming will replace consoles and dedicated hardware, as it could be a matter of complementing those things. To get you up to speed, we’ve put together an explainer on why cloud gaming is the future.
Jade Raymond Is (Probably) Involved
Are We Ready For Cloud Gaming? Is It Ready For Us?
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Just ahead of GDC, Jade Raymond announced that she has joined Google as a vice president. We don’t yet know exactly what Raymond–who is best known for her work as a producer on Assassin’s Creed–will be doing, but it seems fair to assume that she’ll be helping to spearhead whatever this “future of gaming” is that Google has in mind.
Who’s The Competition?
As noted above, PlayStation Now already exists, and Microsoft just recently showcased its xCloud streaming technology, with Forza Horizon 4 being played on a phone. Microsoft also announced plans to begin public testing this year. To help you keep track of all this, we’ve assembled a list of the top companies in the cloud gaming space. There are more than you likely realize.