At an event at the Gaming Developer Conference (GDC) 2019, Google has officially announced a new cross-platform cloud-gaming service – Stadia. Over the years, Google has managed to deliver a wide range of data and information to the masses across various topics, using its resources (data centers and networks). And now, it is leveraging these resources to create a game-streaming service that is independent of the platform.
With Stadia, Google aims to provide users with the ability to stream games directly from the cloud to any of their devices including a desktop, laptop, TV, tablet, or smartphone. To make this possible, games can be streamed using any of the Google services like the Chrome browser, Chromecast, or Pixel device, which manage to be present across the aforementioned platforms. Stadia will roll out soon in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe, later this year.
It is not the first time that Google is trying something like this. In the past, it has also tested a similar service, under the title ‘Project Stream’, which allowed users the ability to stream games in the Chrome browser. Unfortunately, the service could only showcase one game publicly, the ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’, and later had to be shut down.
With Stadia, users do not need a specialized set of hardware to be able to play heavy titles. As most of the heavy lifting is done by Google’s centralized servers and data centers, which even sync all the game progress on to their servers, which is also synced across all your platforms.
With the service expected to be available sometime later this year, here are a few highlighting features of the service:
1. Stadia Controller
Along with the announcement for Stadia, Google also announced a new controller for the gaming enthusiasts. Though users can use their existing USB controllers on their desktops or laptops, the Stadia controller, on the other hand, offers a lag-free, low-latency response for a smooth gaming experience. For this, the controller uses WiFi to connect directly to Google’s data center, in a way, reducing any latency between the input and response. Apart from that, the other interesting features of the controller include a screenshot button – that can be used to take a screenshot of your gameplay or statistics and a Google Assistant button – that can be used to trigger Google’s very own assistant for any aid.
One of the questions that strike your mind as soon as you hear about the service is how does it manage to provide a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience, without causing any lags or issues. Which is pretty obvious, as to be able to pull off such a heavy-demand service requires enormous resources. And Google isn’t short of them. But to be able to compete with the likes of gaming consoles and monstrous gaming rigs, Google has to come up with some real solid performance. For this, the company has partnered with AMD to build a custom GPU for its data center to be able to crunch those high-demanding graphics and visuals. According to Google, this GPU runs on a custom x86 processor clocked at 2.7GHz (hyperthreaded) and has 10.7 teraflops of power and 56 compute units. With all that heavy lifting taken care of by the custom CPUs and GPUs, Google claims that Stadia would be able to support 4K @ 60FPS gameplay, at the time of launch, and soon after 8K @ 120FPS, in the future. It also says that the maximum bandwidth required to stream gameplay in 4K @ 60FPS used to be 25Mbps, however, after improvising on its service, the minimum bandwidth would be the same even for streaming the gameplay in 8K @ 120FPS.
3. Platform Independent Games
With Stadia coming into the mainstream, Developers would be able to enjoy much of the freedom, and would only need to focus on creating the game, rather than worrying about the platform. Which means, they no longer have to worry about building games for a device with a specific set of hardware specifications, as the game will be available on Stadia for a huge number of users across a wide range of platforms. To make the same game available across different types of devices, Google’s data center will do all the hard work of scaling down the game to match the user’s device.
4. Game Titles
The first game to hit Stadia would be DOOM Eternal, which will support gameplay in 4K @ 60FPS. Similar to Project Stream, that tested Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, for a certain period of time before its shutdown, it is expected that Google could bring the title to its newest gaming service as well. However, the company has not briefed any further information on the upcoming games on its services.