It’s GDC 2019 and it’s the age of a new gaming platform. Google’s gaming platform – Stadia. The idea for Stadia is that players will be able to access any game, including high-end triple-A games, on any device that has Chrome. This includes your PC, tablet or mobile device. Games would not be stored on local hardware, but rather are streamed from powerful, optimized datacenters.
“No console required,” said Google’s Phil Harrison, one of the instrumental people from the previous team at PlayStation. He said that players will be able to get into a game in as little as five seconds “with no download, no patch, no update and no install.”
Stadia stands for the word – stadium and it aims to be a virtual stadium for games to be played anywhere. You won’t need an expensive gaming PC or a dedicated game console. Instead, you’ll just need access to Google’s Chrome browser to instantly play games on a phone, tablet, PC, or TV. The on-stage demos were convincing. A player almost instantly starts a game on a low-end Chromebook. Continues the game from the same spot in-game on a mobile phone (with a controller). Then picks up the game up on a low-end PC, a TV, a tablet – anything that runs Chrome. Wizardry.
Check out the demo via Tech Insider.
“The future of gaming is not a box,” according to Google. “It’s a place.”
The success of Stadia is going to rely on the datacenters being able to support and run games at up to 8K resolution and 60 frames per second. This means developers could make a game without restraints of console or PC hardware.
There’s also a huge gamer multiplayer potential for Stadia. Imagine getting that headshot off without any graphical or latency concerns. In their demo, Google showed off split-screen views with multiple perspectives on the same world. Cross-platform play while exciting will still be restricted to what Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo allow on their own systems.
Stadia works with existing controllers such as Xbox but it also has its own controller. A wifi-based device that connects directly to a game’ datacenter in order to reduce latency. The controller also features a Google Assistant button, which players can press to ask for game tips, and instantly be shown a video tip without being taken out of the game.
Harrison also announced the founding of a first-party Stadia development studio, dubbed Stadia Games and Entertainment. Led by industry veteran Jade Raymond, previously from EA and Ubisoft. The studio will focus on making games for Stadia, and helping external developers make games for the platform.
While Google‘s presentation covered a lot of ground, there was no word on pricing models or bandwidth requirements — two significant omissions. Harrison said that Stadia will launch this year in the U.S., UK, and most of Europe. The first gaming announced for Stadia is Doom Eternal, with more details on launch games coming this summer.