Google announced Stadia, a new cloud-based gaming platform, at its GDC 2019 keynote Tuesday morning. It’s a major move for Google into the video game business, which is increasingly building toward streaming as a solution.
Stadia is not a dedicated console or set-top box. The platform will be accessible over the internet on a variety of platforms: browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices. In an onstage demonstration of Stadia, Google showed someone playing a game on a Chromebook, then playing it on a phone, then immediately playing it on PC, picking up where the game left off in real time.
Stadia can stream games in 60 fps, with HDR and 4K resolution, said Google’s Majd Bakar. In the future, Bakar said, Stadia will achieve resolutions up to 8K and frame rates up to 120 fps. Google showed AAA games like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and id Software Doom Eternal running on Stadia.
Google will have a hardware component, however: the Stadia Controller. It’s a traditional looking gamepad, with dual analog joysticks, four face buttons, and shoulder buttons. The controller will connect to the cloud via wi-fi, and includes a “share” button to connect to YouTube and a Google Assistant button.
Stadia will be powered by Google’s worldwide data centers, which live in more than 200 countries and territories, streamed over hundreds of millions of miles of fiber optic cable, Pichai said. Executive Phil Harrison, previously at PlayStation and Xbox, now at Google, said the company will give developers access to its data centers to bring games to Stadia.
Harrison said that players will be able to access and play Stadia games, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, within seconds. Harrison showed a YouTube video of Odyssey featuring a “Play” button that would offer near-instant access to the game.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the new platform at the Game Developers Conference, saying that Google want to build a gaming platform for everyone, and break down barriers to access for high-end games.
Google offered a glimpse of its new gaming initiative in 2018 with the public test of Project Stream, a technology that made it possible to stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through its Chrome web browser.