Meet Stadia, Google's Take on the Future of Gaming
Here’s everything you need to know about the new streaming platform: technical parameters and service integration, supported games and multiplayer, launch details, and what the industry thinks
After years of rumors, Google has finally unveiled its new video game streaming platform on March 19, during GDC 2019. The company aims to provide affordable high-end gaming to everyone — no matter what device they use, stating that they target as many as 2 billion players across the world. We are here to tell you everything about it.
See the full Google presentation at GDC 2019 below:
Stadia is Google’s entry to cloud gaming
Stadia is an upcoming video game streaming platform from Google. The company stressed that it’s dedicated to delivering high fidelity gaming comparable to the current and next-gen consoles, powered and streamed directly by Google. The goal of this platform is to eliminate technical barriers, free users from constant downloads and updates and deliver a streamlined experience to any of their devices.
Google’s entry to the market was highly anticipated, as numerous other players have already released or plan to release their services, including Sony (PS Now), Microsoft (Project xCloud) and EA (Project Atlas).
You can use it on any device
Stadia is a separate platform, so developers themselves have to bring the game to the streaming service. After it’s placed on Google’s servers, any Stadia user will be able to access it over the internet, using any Chrome-enabled device, such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs or Chromecast. It’s not yet announced if any separate hardware to access Stadia will be released.
Stadia supports 4K and 60 fps and is twice as powerful as PS4 and Xbox One X
The streaming platform supports 4K 60 fps gaming with HDR on release although Google hopes to go up to 8K and 120+ fps in the future, as the very concept of streaming allows them to upgrade hardware at any time.
While there is not any apparent hardware, Google still compared Stadia to modern consoles and set the expectations for its performance. Each player will have as many as 10.7 teraflops of graphics power allocated to his session. The GPUs are provided by AMD, which further solidifies its position on the video game hardware market. CPUs are custom built and clock at 2.7 GHz, supported by 16 GB of memory.
The most powerful current gen console, Xbox One X, boasts ‘’just’’ 6 teraflops of GPU power, while PS4 Pro has even less — 4.2. Stadia is more powerful than both of them combined, but it will more likely compete with ninth generation of consoles, which are expected to have about 10-12 teraflops.
Reliable internet is the only requirement
You will need most likely nothing to play. Stadia supports any Chrome-enabled device, which includes just about every computer and handheld device in the world as well as Chromecast, select TVs and media players. The only essential thing is a reliable and fast internet connection.
We won’t have the exact numbers until the release, but right now it is recommended that you have a 25 Mbps connection to stream in 1080p and 60 fps, Google estimates that at launch around 30 Mbps connection will be needed to stream in 4K, as the technology is constantly evolving.
You don’t even need to buy Google’s own gamepad — your own controller is promised to work without any problems. But Google’s controller has some advantages to it. Apart from good looks and Konami code hidden underneath it, Stadia gamepad has Wi-Fi and connects directly to servers over the internet to reduce input lag and make players’ experience even more enjoyable.
It’s deeply integrated with YouTube
Google is a service provider first and foremost, so it would be strange if Stadia didn’t have any links to other products made by Google. Thus, it has deep integration with YouTube.
You can launch any game in just 5 seconds after watching a trailer on YouTube, join a streamer’s multiplayer session and even continue playing the game from the point you stopped watching the walkthrough or stream. They also promise that players will be able to share checkpoints through short links, for example daring your friends to beat your time.
Of course, Stadia will also support YouTube streaming, with video feed being encoded and streamed directly from Google’s servers, reducing latency and increasing quality.
Multiplayer and cross-play confirmed
Stadia supports multiplayer, just as any other platform and doesn’t put any restrictions to cross-platform play. You will be able to play with any platform if the developer included such possibility.
Multiplayer is promised to benefit from Stadia as well because all data is stored on the same servers allocated by Google. It means that your connection won’t go through numerous servers between you, the game and other players. Everything will go through Google, allowing for a more reliable connection and secure network. No hackers, no cheaters and no lag switchers here.
In addition, Google states that the games will be able to distribute workload across multiple Stadia instances, potentially increasing player count from hundreds to thousands.
3 games announced, first-party studio opened
Stadia is still relatively far from its release date, and Google will work with studios throughout the year to bring more games onto the platform. It was announced that all the major game engines will support the technology, and more than 100 big and small developers have already received their dev-kits.
Only 3 games have been confirmed to date: Doom Eternal, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and an unannounced project from Q-Games (developers of PixelJunk). We’ve already seen Odyssey perform on stage and during the closed beta last year, while Doom was available to play on GDC itself in 4K HDR and 60 fps.
Google has also established its own studio, called Stadia Games and Entertainment and led my Jade Raymond, one of the Assassin’s Creed creators and EA Motive founder. She and her employees will focus on delivering first-party Stadia-exclusives games.
There were many other developers on stage, so it’s a sure thing that we will get many more developers and publishers jumping on board in the near future.
Stadia releases this year, no price yet
Stadia will release during this year. While there is no other definite information, it’s unlikely to make it to market before the end of 2019. The streaming platform will be first available in the US, Canada, UK and ‘’most of Europe’’, with other regions soon to follow. There is no word on pricing or distribution model — we’ll have to wait until mainstream gaming conferences for that.
Professionals feel good about it
Digital Foundry, a Eurogamer’s channel dedicated to game technology and hardware reviews, was quite fond of Stadia. Even though they only had the opportunity to test Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 1080p and 30 fps over Wi-Fi using a Pixelbook, their latency results came at 166ms — an exact match of Xbox One X’s input lag in the same game.
The graphics were on par with the most powerful modern console, exceeding it in certain areas. While fast-moving scenes still produce some visible artifacts, it wasn’t enough to negatively impact the experience. For a product still in development, the results sure look promising.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has addressed Stadia in an internal memo to his team:
- ‘’There were no big surprises in their announcement although I was impressed by their leveraging of YouTube, the use of Google Assistant and the new Wi-Fi controller. But I want to get back to us, there has been really good work to get us to the position where we are poised to compete for 2 billion gamers across the planet. Google went big today and we have a couple of months until E3 when we will go big.’’
Yves Guillemot, a Ubisoft co-founder, already has close ties to Stadia and shared the following:
- ‘’The power and accessibility of streaming will give billions unprecedented opportunities to play video games in the future. We are proud to partner with Google on Stadia, building on what we’ve learned with Project Stream via Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. This is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to continue collaborating closely with Google on what’s next for Stadia.’’
Devolver Digital’s co-founder Graeme Struthers supported this sentiment, stating that they look forward to working with the platform in the future.
Bryce Johnson, the inclusive lead at Microsoft Devices, praised Google for enabling the support of the Adaptive Controller on Stadia’s launch.
Some other people felt less optimistic. For example, former Blizzard producer Matthew Householder believes that Stadia is ‘’ yet another variation on the so-far unsuccessful thin-client approach’’ and will fail without an exclusive. He also suggested that this could be a way to promote YouTube and Google AI.
Mark Edmonds, formerly of Rare and currently of Starfire Studios, is concerned about the input lag:
- ‘’Game streaming seems a better proposition when it is also combined with local game hardware and is an added feature. So you can demo a game quickly, or play one while it is downloading to your console, or play one while out and about on your mobile.’’
Now we can only wait for further announcements and more facts and numbers — especially regarding the pricing. Google have stepped off the beaten path and wants to disrupt the traditional world of video games. Regardless of people’s sentiments about Stadia, if anybody can pull it off, it’s Google.
Jade Raymond, now a Vice President at Google, posted on Twitter that the company is looking for those interested in Stadia.
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