Google Stadia takes on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo with new online game platform
Get ready gamers: Google is ready to take on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo in the gaming space.
At the annual Game Developers Conference the technology giant announced its new Stadia gaming platform, looking to make it easier to not just make video games but play them on any screen you own including phones, computers and TVs.
Stadia, which will launch later in 2019, promises new ways to connect with games including a Play button on YouTube videos that will launch you from the video into that game.
Google demonstrated the new platform at the annual event Tuesday in San Francisco. While showing a video of the game “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” it was shown how a “Play” button on the YouTube video could transport the viewer right into the game.
Often a player gets the urge to play a game while watching a video, but has to boot up a game console or another program on their computer. This Stadia feature would get players into a game in “as quick as five seconds with no download, no patch, no update and no install,” said Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft game executive who joined Google last year.
“Stadia offers instant access to play … (and reduces) the friction between getting excited about a game and playing a game,” he said.
Other features built into Google’s game-streaming platform include Crowd Play for instant joining and coordination of multiplayer games and Google Assistant-style help feature when players get stuck in games.
Last October, Google began Project Stream, a four-month PC streaming video game test that included Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.”
“We learned we could bring a triple A game to any platform using Chrome (Google’s web browser),” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the event. “We are dead serious about making this technology accessible to everyone,” he said.
As opposed to downloading games to a hard drive, Stadia will tap into Google’s vast global server network – the same one that powers Google Search – to stream the games to your devices.
“The data center is your platform,” says head of engineering Majd Baker.
In another demonstration, the same game was handed off from a Pixel Chromebook, successively to a Pixel smartphone, desktop PC, tablet and then to a television using Chromecast.
Games will be able to stream in 4K at 60 frames per second, rivaling the graphical power of the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. Users can use a USB controller or Google’s new Stadia remote that features WiFi to connect directly to the data center.
Google’s controller also has a button dedicated to streaming to YouTube and one for summoning the Google Assistant for in-game help.
No pricing information was announced for the service or the controller.
Another feature, called State Share, would let players send a link via YouTube, email or other manner letting others pick up a game at a specific spot. “I can create moments specifically for this kind of sharing,” said Dylan Cuthbert, founder of game studio Q-Games and developer of games such as “Star Fox 64 3D” and “PixelJunk Monsters.”
Cuthbert has a game in development that uses the feature. He says he hopes to “let the internet turn my game into an infinite replayable treasure hunt.”
More than 100 game studios have Stadia development tools now. Among other developers working on games to play on Stadia is id Software, which will bring its “Doom Eternal” to the service.
Google will also open its own Stadia Games and Entertainment studio, which will bring its own first-party games to market and seek to remaster classic games to the system, said studio head Jade Raymond, previously a producer and executive producer with games such as “Assassin’s Creed” and “Watch Dogs” with Ubisoft and worked on Star Wars games at Electronic Arts before joining Google recently.
“We are on the brink of a huge revolution in gaming, one that will unlock a whole new level of creativity for developers,” she said.
Google is not alone in its vision of a cloud gaming future for video games – a vision that could certainly make games a more economical proposition for consumers. Microsoft and Electronic Arts are both working on cloud services, with Microsoft teasing a similar vision last year with its Project xCloud.
All this industry activity will grow cloud gaming subscriptions from an estimated $234 million last year to $1.5 billion in 2023, estimates research firm IHS Markit.
While Google has strengths in its network, devices and Chrome browser, “arguably both Microsoft and (Chinese gaming and internet giant) Tencent are better positioned with strengths in both infrastructure and content,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, IHS Markit’s head of games research, in an analysis Tuesday.
“I do not expect a Google cloud gaming proposition to dramatically impact the next cycle of console sales, but it may start to pick up some users that are not ready to spend $400 on a new console at launch,” he said.
Read the original article over at USAToday.com.