Google Announce Streaming Service Stadia

Google have ended months of speculation by announcing their streaming service – Stadia.

A few weeks ago we looked at the impact of streaming services in video games (which you can check out on episode 7 of the podcast). Back then Google’s Project Stream was the name – now it’s evolved into Google Stadia.

Google have announced their new video game streaming service called Stadia. It will be released in UK, US, Canada and ‘most of Europe’ in 2019 however we don’t know pricing details just yet.

What is Stadia?

Stadia is a streaming services for video games promising to bring the best games to everyone in the world. Rather than have physical disks or a console this will be a subscription service. This is much like other service we use like Netflix for movies and Spotify for music.

How does Stadia work?

Rather than have a console under your TV or on your desk the processing and delivery of data will be done by huge data centres around the world. The games will be delivered to your device over the internet with the promise of high quality gaming on any device that have access to a Google Chrome browser.

Google has a data centre network that covers over 200 countries and they aim to bring 4K 60fps gaming to a potential audience of over 2 billion devices that have a chrome browser. In the future Google plan to support 8K 120fps gaming. The recommended internet speed is 25 Mbps for a smooth experience.

What software & hardware do you need?

You can run Google Stadia if you have access to a Chrome browser. You don’t need to worry about your machine’s power capabilities. That’s all taken care for you by Google in their data centres.

Although you’ll be able to view the games on a phone, tablet, browser or TV through Google Chromecast you will control the games through a standard video game controller.

Google have created their own controller. It looks like a standard video game controller albeit with a few neat features like sharing 4K 60fps clips to YouTube and a Google Assistant integration for guides and walkthroughs.

Other features

As well as the power and availability Google have unveiled other features that could have a big impact in the video game space.

YouTube – Stadia comes with a tight YouTube integration allowing for the quick sharing of clips. Also if you’re watching a streaming playing a game there will be a button below simply labelled ‘Play now’. As a viewer you can click that and start playing immediately.

Crowd Play – A feature that allows streamers to connect with their audience to queue them up into their game state. You could be watching a streamer one minute, then playing with them the next.

State Share – Developers and streamers can share states of the game allowing other players to take on the same moment. For example, you might be watching a streamers who’s facing a particularly challenging boss. The streamer can share that game state and allow viewers to take on the boss in the same conditions.

Games & studios

Lots of developers are working with Stadia at the moment to port their game to the service. Developers like Take Two, Bethesda and Ubisoft have been working with Google for some time. Doom Eternal from id Software and Bethesda was playable at the GDC event running at 4K 60fps.

Google have also started their own game studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment which is led by Jade Raymond – formerly of EA and Ubisoft. They will be creating exclusive titles for Stadia.

Check out a quick recap of the announcement from GDC here

What does this all mean for video games?

It’s all very exciting news. As we discussed on the podcast a few weeks ago, the future is about streaming services in video games but we’ve yet to glimpse into that future. Google’s come in with their huge network of data centres and engineering talent behind them and could really do something game changing in the video game space.

Does this mean the end of consoles? Does this mean the end of buying physical games? I guess you only have to look at what’s happened in the music, TV and film industry for a glimpse into the future.

What will be interesting is how other companies will adapt. Microsoft certainly seems to be laying the ground work for a streaming future. Can Nintendo and Sony adapt effectively? Also, with Amazon and maybe Apple waiting in the wings with their data center and engineering might – will the current big 3 survive the streaming future?

[Image credit: MMO culture]

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