Google has largely stayed away from the gaming industry, but today jumped in with a big splash. The company announced its Stadia cloud gaming platform at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. With the launch, Google is attempting a catch-all service that looks to the future of gaming as a digital cloud-based form.
Over the last year, Microsoft has been developing its own cloud gaming solution called Project xCloud, which would allow Xbox One games to be used on any device, including smartphones. Google Stadia is a similar platform, but it seems the company is aiming to be even more open than Microsoft by embracing all games.
Also, it is likely Stadia will become a digital platform that creates an entertainment system for users. As it will work across the Chrome browser, Chromecast, and other devices, we can see services like video streaming, music streaming, online sports betting NY, apps, smart home tools, and more integrating with Stadia.
Google’s Phil Harrison broke down the details of Stadia. Harrison is no slouch in the gaming industry as he has worked with Microsoft on Xbox and Sony on PlayStation in the past. He says Google will drive the new platform by beefing up gaming on YouTube.
What differentiates Stadia from Microsoft’s Project xCloud is the latter will be limited to Xbox One games. Google is opening its arms to all developers, including Microsoft (unlikely to happen), who will be able to allow their titles to be played on mobile devices, in a browser, on TVs, tablets, phones, and PC.
While entertainment has moved into streaming services, the computing power for cloud gaming must be huge. Google needs to have server support to stream games over the cloud and in high quality. Impressively, the company demonstrated how that works by seamlessly switching gameplay from a phone to a tablet and then to a TV live on stage.
Of course, it is worth noting Google’s internet connection was probably off the charts good for the demo, so we will be interested to see how smooth gameplay is in real-world conditions. That said, the company says it is leveraging its global cloud infrastructure to deliver 4K support at 60fps at launch. Google says 8K resolutions at 120fps will eventually be available.
Google has also instantly become a gaming hardware creator. The company announced the Stadia Controller, which looks like it was inspired by the Xbox One gamepad with a splash of PS4 controller for good measure. The controller connects to devices through a Wi-Fi link, which Google has added a direct share button for YouTube and a button for Google Assistant.
One of the hurdles facing Google is its newcomer presence in the gaming market. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have been working with developers and publishers for years and are established. We guess Google will have to throw plenty of money at Stadia if it is to acquire any triple A games as exclusives.
However, the company is willing to go the long route and has created its own game studio. Aptly named Stadia Games and Entertainment, the studio will work on creating exclusive Google-designed games. Again, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have been at this a lot longer, so don’t expect huge gains from Stadia Games and Entertainment for some time.
Availability of Stadia is still unknown. It seems the GDC event today was about Google detailing its cloud gaming plans before Microsoft goes all in with Project xCloud at E3 in June. Google did not reveal when Stadia will launch or how much it will cost, although more details were promised during the summer.
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