Google has formally announced its plans for a video game streaming platform called Stadia, offering games on demand streamed through the cloud. Stadia is planned for launch this year and allows you to stream games across a variety of devices with very little friction. It could be a very big deal for gaming going forward.
The platform aims to bring together playing, spectating, and developing games onto a single platform. As an example, you could view Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on YouTube and then begin playing it through streaming in “as little as five seconds.” Things like game updates and patches and system requirements are effectively a non-issue, because the game is running on Google’s servers, rather than your local device.
Google VP Phil Harrison promised the technology will work across desktops, laptops, TV, tablets, and phones. In a demonstration, the same demo was seen working across a Chromebook, smartphone, tablet, and TV, the latter through a Chromecast Ultra HDMI streamer. At launch it will stream in 4K at 60 FPS with surround sound and HDR support, and in the future Google is planning to support 8K resolution and frame-rates upwards of 120 FPS. Harrison also promised that the platform will embrace cross-platform play.
You’ll be able to use existing controllers on laptops and PCs, and Google will offer its own Stadia controller. The Google Stadia controller links to whichever device you’re playing on, and it sports a dedicated Google Assistant button for referencing walkthrough videos if you get stuck.
Google also announced it has partnered with Unreal and Unity for development, along with middleware developers like Havok. Id Software’s Marty Stratton took the stage to announce that Doom Eternal will be coming to Stadia. Google also announced it is starting its own studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment, to be headed up by former Ubisoft and EA studio head Jade Raymond, which will create exclusives for the platform.
The presentation outlined a few key features. “State Share” will let you create moments for friends or viewers to pick up from your own state in a game. “Crowd Play” will let viewers of a stream join a queue to join in the multiplayer game themselves. Both will need to be enabled by developers.
Google first hinted at an interest in game streaming last year, when it partnered with Ubisoft for Project Stream. The service allowed testers to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to completion through its Chrome browser. Since then the rumors of “Project Yeti” only intensified.
For more on cloud gaming, check out how cloud gaming works and the companies investing heavily in cloud technologies. Or check out all of the Google gaming news from today’s event.