At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019, Google finally unveiled its long-pending video game streaming service in the form of Google Stadia. Google has been working on this project for years and its goal in launching the service is to replace the existing pricey and hefty console-based gaming experience epitomized by Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.
Currently, the gaming experience largely depends on hardware and gaming equipment. Users have to invest in buying expensive hardware to get a rich gaming experience. However, Google at GDC 2019 promised that Stadia is going to disrupt existing gaming platforms. It also mentioned that with Stadia, gaming as we know it is expected to get massive changes in how games are played, brought, streamed, shared, and developed.
Here is everything you need to know about Google Stadia.
What exactly is Google Stadia?
Google has finally stepped into the gaming industry with Stadia. However, unlike all other existing traditional gaming companies, Google is not going to sell hardware equipment such as consoles. In fact, users do not have to buy any specialized hardware or gaming equipment to game in Stadia.
Stadia is an online platform that is aimed at bringing players, developers, streamers, and viewers into a global network. Stadia will run the games on Google’s datacenters and allow users to stream them directly on almost any device with a screen.
This means users can play almost any available game online by simply clicking the game link, for instance from YouTube. And as per the company at the event, no matter how heavy or visually intense the game is, users will be able to start playing the game within five seconds. And the best part about it is even a high-end graphic-intense game can be played on a smartphone, an old laptop, an Internet-connected television, or even on a Chromebook, which is usually meant for lightweight applications.
How does it work?
Google will be running the games on its datacenters and will be streaming the gameplay to users directly through the Internet. Since the game does not reside on the user’s machine, a user can switch between multiple devices without losing game progress. This also helps users resume the game in the case of power failures or device issues.
There is no hardware involved with Stadia except for a wireless controller. This wireless controller will be directly connected to Google’s cloud-based datacenters, where the game is running. This means you use any device with a display to view the game progress and use the Stadia controller to play the game. Both of these are separately connected to the game servers over a network connection.
While there are many unanswered questions about the actual gameplay with Stadia, the company has stated that the lowest resolution Stadia will go is 720p. The company also mentioned that it is working on a solution to deal with sudden Internet outage issues. Google plans to launch Stadia with a target of 4K/60 frames per second with about 30 megabytes per second.
State Share is the key feature of Stadia and is a first-of-its-kind feature offered on any gaming platform. Using State Share, players will be able to share an encoded representation of any moment in a game. It will allow game players to share typical moments in a game and seek help from friends and others. It will allow YouTubers and game reviewers to focus on any such shared state. In the developers’ perspective, these in-game moments can be turned into an easily sharable link that works as precisely as any other Internet link.
Live gameplay and streaming
Stadia has been designed with game streaming and platform-agnostic sharing of game sessions between users in mind. Accordingly, users can queue up to play games live with YouTubers. This is going to create a new form of online gaming lobby, where users can watch the gameplay live until it’s their own turn to play. When the match is over, the next viewer in the queue gets a chance to play and the YouTuber who is streaming the game will have the full control on the game and the player’s turns.
Integrated Google Assistant
Google Assistant is now pretty much a common add-on with all the Google products and Stadia is no exception. Stadia’s controller comes with a dedicated button to enable Google Assistant. Users can hit the button when stuck at a particular point in a game and Google Assistant will automatically detect the game and the point where the user is having trouble. Once the trouble has been detected, it can help the user to bypass the point in the game by showing relevant YouTube videos. Since the entire Stadia ecosystem runs over the Internet, it is the gamer’s Google account that will effectively have all the login, game-related, and other relevant information.
Games and support
Google at the event also mentioned that it is going to collaborate with multiple gaming companies across the globe. The company said it sent its development tools to over 100 companies and have invited developers to apply to join the effort. Google also announced its own first-party game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, to bring more content and games to Stadia.
Google Stadia launch dates and pricing
Many essential details such as technological features, requirements, gaming support, game-engine, and infrastructure-related information about Stadia have not been fully disclosed yet. However, the company made it clear that they are going to give out further announcements at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019 in June.
Other crucial information such as pricing and launch dates have not been disclosed by the company. But the company confirmed that Stadia will be launched this year in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and most of Europe.
Google Stadia: Game on
At this moment, Stadia has given the global audience a reason to go crazy about its plan to revolutionize the current gaming landscape. However, there is not much information about it yet. The cost, the business model, the profit model, and other aspects are going to be a crucial factor that will define the cost of this service. Considering the fact that users do not have to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on gaming consoles and equipment to experience rich gaming means there could be substantial costs and subscription charges involved with the Stadia services.
Featured image: Google Stadia