Stadia Is Google's Revolutionary Game Streaming Platform
SAN FRANCISCO — After months of rumors and anticipation, Google has finally taken the wraps off its big foray into video games. Launching sometime in 2019, Google Stadia is a cloud-based gaming platform that allows you to play AAA games on just about any device that has a Chrome browser and internet connection.
Billed as a "game platform of everyone," Google Stadia isn't just meant to let you game on any device — it's also designed to connect gamers, YouTube creators and developers in a "way that only Google can," according to Google vice president of gaming Phil Harrison.
As an example, Harrison demonstrated how you can be watching a YouTube trailer for Assassin's Creed Odyssey, press a "play now" button, and start playing the game from your browser within minutes.
"We want to reduce the friction between getting excited about a game and playing a game," said Harrison.
Google also showed off how seamlessly the service will work between devices, as a player was able to jump between an Assassin's Creed session across a PC, Pixel Slate tablet, Pixel smartphone and smart TV.
Better yet, Harrison confirmed that Stadia will support full cross-platform play and cross-saves with other gaming platforms, so long as developers choose to enable it.
Credit: Tom's Guide
While Stadia will work with your existing devices and a variety of supported controllers, Google is also launching its own peripheral: the Stadia Controller. Sporting a familiar Xbox-style layout, the controller connects to the cloud via Wi-Fi to ensure responsive gameplay no matter which device you're playing on. The gamepad sports both a capture button for sharing gameplay, as well as a Google Assistant button that lets you ask for gameplay tips without having to close your game and look up a walk-through.
Google's Majd Bakar later took the stage to note that, thanks to Google's powerful data centers, Stadia supports gameplay at up to 4K at 60 frames per second, complete with bells and whistles like HDR and surround sound. The service uses a custom AMD GPU, which sports 10.7 teraflops of GPU power — that's a whole lot more than the Xbox One X (6.0) and PS4 Pro (4.2).
Id Software's Marty Stratton confirmed that the company's upcoming Doom Eternal will run at 4K and 60 fps on the new service. We also got a look at a graphics benchmark running on Stadia's single GPU, which looked comparable to the same test running on a multi-GPU setup.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Google also showed off the ways in which Stadia empowers developers. For example, the platform will allow game makers to instantly apply visual filters to their games — from cool watercolor looks to a skin that makes your entire game world look like you're in a Pac-Man maze.
Connecting gamers and creators
One of the big selling points of Stadia is how it can connect gamers and YouTube creators. With the Crowd Play feature, you'll be able to click a button right on a YouTube stream and immediately start playing with that broadcaster. Think you can beat your favorite broadcaster at NBA 2K? This is your chance to jump right in and do it — so long as the streamer allows it, of course.
And because the platform saves every aspect of your game state to the cloud, you can, say, challenge your audience (or just a friend) to pick up from a specific spot in your play session and try to outperform you using the State Share feature.
Stadia launches in 2019 in the US, UK, Europe and Canada. The service seems like it has extraordinary potential to bring AAA games to any device, and the interactivity it allows between gamers and streamers could be an absolute game changer. I got my hands on Stadia running Assassin's Creed Odyssey on a Google Pixelbook here at GDC, and the experience of climbing and slicing my way through ancient Greece felt largely as responsive as it would on a console.
However, we still don't know much about Stadia's game lineup, which could be the defining factor in getting folks to ditch their consoles for the cloud.
Be sure to check out our GDC 2019 hub page for all of the latest gaming news and hands-on impressions straight out of San Francisco.