Google Stadia – The New Cloud Platform for the Future of Gaming
When we think of video games, it will soon be Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and ... Google's Stadia?
For years, we played video games in arcades. Then we huddled in front of consoles connected to our living room televisions. The most dedicated of us have built their own expensive PCs to get the best experience possible. In recent years, another significant change is emerging; it is cloud gaming.
On Tuesday, Google announced Stadia, a service that lets you play video games using a wide variety of devices and a (solid) Internet connection. The selling point of Stadia is the convenience: you do not need a game console or expensive PC. Just a TV (or a Chromecast), a browser, a phone or a low-end PC that can surf the web using Google’s Chrome browser.
Google Stadia is a streaming service that promises to take cutting-edge games, which would require advanced hardware to run in a conventional way, to basically any device and instantly, with games starting in just five seconds straight from the browser.
“We found that we can take any big game to any device through Google Chrome,” said Google Chairman Sundar Pichai on the stage of GDC 2019 in San Francisco, United States.
Play anywhere and any devices
In short, the big balcony is to dispense with the use of some console to perform simultaneous transmissions for any device. Initially, Stadia will run from desktops, laptops, smart TVs, smartphones and tablets and should open up many possibilities for remote gaming, letting the fun begin in one device and continue in another device from the very point where you stopped.
If the idea of Nintendo Switch was already sensational in allowing the player to load the console anywhere, Google seems to take the situation to another level by allowing the game to start on the notebook, switch to the TV in the room, and then proceed on the smartphone – and all without having to install anything, depending only on the connection to the internet.
More than 100 studios to develop games for Stadia
For now, we have only a few games confirmed in the service, but the company is trying to solve this situation. More than 100 games creation studios have already been invited to work with the new platform, having received development kits.
Google also claims that its platform has unique features not found in competitors such as Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. The most interesting are the social possibilities of the Stadia, which is natively multiplatform multiplayer and allows you to share links to the player entering specific moments of some title.
Stream fast and real-time
One of Stadia’s great tricks will be the ability to stream real-time, high-performance images at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (fps). The platform’s engineering chief, Majd Bakar, said Google would use more than 7,500 servers to provide the game’s satisfying gaming experience to future platform users.
To do this, the company built the Stadia architecture based on Google’s data center network, which is used to search the company’s most popular tool, where it is possible to get information in a matter of a millisecond. This network is made up of undersea cables and fiber optic links around the world.
Focus on quality
During the tests made in 2018, when the platform had the provisional name of Project Stream, it was possible to transmit images with a resolution of 1080p, at 60 fps and with stereo sound. As the time of the release of the Stadia, this performance will have significantly increased, being able to display scenes in 4K with 60 fps in HDR and surround sound. The improvement is more than considerable. In the future, it should scale up to 8K resolution.
And if all this is not enough, Stadia will still allow an additional transmission to the one the user uses to play. This extra stream, also in 4K and 60 fps, can be shared directly on YouTube so they can watch your game in real time. Your game memories will be watched and stored in the best possible quality.
All this infrastructure is unprecedented in the world of games. With extremely powerful hardware, it will be possible to play directly from the cloud, without the need for consoles or the installation of games anywhere. For gameplay to always be the best it can be, these servers are distributed everywhere so that there is always one of them close to all players.
Powerful than PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X
During the presentation, interesting data was shown – the Stadia has a graphical power that beats the two main consoles of the market, PlayStation Pro and Xbox One X.
In total, Stadia has 10.7 Teraflops on the GPU, while the Xbox One X gets 6.0 Teraflops and the PlayStation 4 Pro with 4.2 Teraflops.
Running on Linux as an operating system, developers will have more facilities, according to Google. The company claims that they can develop directly from the Google cloud, via PC or other platforms for portability later.
“We found that we can take any big game to any device through Google Chrome,” said Google Sundar President Pichai on the stage.
In his presentation, Harrison spoke of a connected and integrated platform and was not exaggerating. One of the highlights of Stadia is the possibility of offering multiplayer gaming for its players, expanding the possibilities of multiplayer challenges.
Made for the streaming generation of games, the Stadia has other interesting features in that sense. Those who are playing can select an exact point of the game to share with other people – the State Share – making it easy for spectators to join streamers and YouTubers games and also the good old round among friends.
During the Project Stream demo, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran and consumed 300GB of data in 50 hours, raising some questions as to what the ideal minimum connection to run the games remotely.
The company has confirmed that Stadia will seamlessly stream 4K games at 60 frames per second in HDR and surround sound over a 25 Mbps connection. We hope the platform will work on the 5G network soon, but at first, it will only run through Wi-Fi and wired connections.
To run the party, Google also announced the Stadia Controller. The gaming pad looks anatomical and has a very sober look, with Xbox style buttons, two analogs ordered as in the controls of the PlayStation and buttons of quick access to the sharing and the Google Assistant.
“A place for all ways to play,” said Phil Harrison, one of Google’s vice presidents who has been an executive at both PlayStation and Xbox. The choice of the expression “a place” is not for nothing and is in line with the suggestive slogan of the Stadia: the future of games is not a box, it is a place.
“Stadia offers instant access to the games without the need for downloads or installation,” said Harrison, making it simple and straightforward to explain.
Exclusive on the way
Google announced the formation of Stadia Games and Entertainment, the division that will take care of the initiative of the games and its own games. Jade Raymond will head the group, former EA and Ubisoft recently confirmed as one of the company’s new vice presidents. It is possible that it will be responsible for developing exclusive games for the company’s web gaming service.
While the exclusive ones do not arrive, one of the first games to support Stadia will be Doom Eternal, ID software’s title that will run at 4K and 60 fps for users of Google’s new gaming service. Google has also partnered with game developers such as Epic Games and Unity.
The future of video games?
“Our ambition goes well beyond just one game,” said Phil Harrison. The company wants to give players “instant access” to a game by clicking on a link. “A system that has already transformed the music and film industries.”
Google sees the game as a new way to infiltrate your life – as if emails, search, YouTube and Android were not enough. The idea is – who needs to spend hundreds of dollars for an Xbox, a PlayStation 4, a Nintendo Switch or a PC when you can play a game on the Internet, on an entry-level computer or your smartphone?
Although Google is not the first company to offer a cloud gaming service, its entry could make waves in the world of video games. Google has a lot of money and has made a name for itself by offering reliable services like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Photos.
With Google’s streaming service, you will no longer need to go to a reseller like Amazon, Best Buy or GameStop to get the latest Triple-A title. You will not have to wait for hours to download it from an online store like Steam. According to Google, all you will need is a fast Internet connection, a controller, and you are ready.
When and where?
On the stage of GDC 2019, Google has confirmed that Stadia hits the market later this year for Europe, the United States, and Canada. There is still no forecast of when the games streaming platform of Google will reach other regions.
Google has not yet reported on how to access Stadia, whether individual sales or subscription style like Netflix and Spotify.