The gaming market is constantly changing, and word has it that next-gen consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo could be the last dedicated gaming consoles, with cloud-based game streaming taking over. The possibilities with cloud-based gaming are endless, but there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Predictions have pointed to the possibility of gaming on almost any device at any time with superior graphics and no need to invest in expensive or bulky hardware. PlayStation Now, for instance, does stream games to PC and PS4 consoles, but you still need the hardware. Microsoft also has its own service in the works, known as xCloud, that should go through public trials sometime this year. It looks like Google is going to beat everyone to the punch with its new Google Stadia streaming service. What was once expected to be a console has turned into an all-out streaming service that will allow you to play the same games on your computer, smart TV, smartphone, tablet, or any other device with an internet connection it seems. The new service is expected to kick off this year, and this is everything we know about it so far.
You’ll Be Able to Play Games on Any Device
Since Google servers will be doing all of the heavy lifting, the company promises that we’ll be able to stream AAA games directly to any device. This includes PCs, TVs, Smartphones, Tablets, and maybe even car infotainment systems. That means there will be no hardware to buy, outside of a Stadia controller.
Stadia Games Will Stream Directly from Google Servers
With each major console manufacturer offering their own online stores, we don’t even need to buy game discs anymore. We simply sign up for a subscription package – like EA Access or Microsoft Game Pass – or buy them directly from the online store and wait for the download to complete. Google Stadia will be an evolution of this model with Google Servers storing the games, all of which is being offered via a subscription-based system – similar to the way Netflix and Amazon Prime works for movies.
You can Start from Almost Anywhere, Even YouTube Videos
The nice thing about a game-streaming service like Google Stadia is the fact that you can start playing games from just about anywhere, including directly from YouTube videos. The service will also be accessible via your Google Chrome browser, smartphone app, and an app on your smart TV as well.
Laptop and PC Gamers Can Use USB Controllers
Google Stadia game streaming service will launch with its own dedicated controller, but it won’t be a necessity for PC and Laptop gamers. Those who prefer to play from their own computer will be able to use their own USB controllers instead of purchasing the stand-alone Stadia controller. This could make gaming significantly cheaper as there may be no up-front purchase outside of the subscription itself. And, since the Stadia service streams games, even low-end budget systems should be able to play the games with ease – all that matters is your internet connection.
The Stadia Controller Looks a Lot Like the Xbox Controller
As it turns out, Google has pretty much copied Microsoft’s Xbox controller design. As you can see from this image, the only difference is the addition of that central button between the two joysticks and the two buttons directly in the middle of the controller. Everything else is nearly identical, yet the controller looks smoother compared to Microsoft’s current controller design.
The Stadia Controller is a Wi-Fi Device that Connects Directly to Google Servers
One of the biggest concerns of all gamers right now is the lag between controller input and actually action in the game. It might not be that important for turn-based strategy games, for instance, but for fast-paced games like first-person shooters, even a little bit of lag can make the difference between life and death. It can also be enough to cause a lot of gamers to shun the service altogether as the correlation between controller input and game output needs come with as little lag as possible. Google seemingly has the answer, though. Instead of connecting your Stadia controller to your device via Bluetooth or USB cable, the Stadia controller is Wi-Fi capable and connects directly to Google’s service. And, that’s where the requirement for fast internet comes in.
Games Will Stream at Up to 4k at 60 FPS
Google claims that it can stream games in 4k quality at 60 frames per second – a feat that’s actually pretty amazing considering some gaming PCs on the market can’t handle that kind of output. Of course, actually quality will depend on a number of factors that include server load, internet speed, and latency. Whatever device you’re playing on, and you controller for that matter, will have to have excellent Wi-Fi signal as well or you could experience a drop in quality.
Stadia Will Support 8k Streaming in the Future
When Google launches the Stadia streaming service, 4k quality will be the best you can do. But, in the future, the company plans to offer 8k quality as well. There’s no timetable as to when 8K will be available or what quality of internet you’ll need to achieve this kind of visual clarity, but the company is already working on it.
Capability Was Previewed with Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Google Stadia isn’t something that’s just come out of nowhere – It’s actually been in the works for a while, and the company showcased what was possible back in October of 2018 when it allowed the world to play Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey directly from any computer with the Chrome browser installed. Back then, it went by the name “Project Stream.” Streaming a AAA title over the internet without issue was something that was unthinkable just a few years ago, but Google actually pulled it off. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey didn’t stream perfectly at all times, but it worked pretty well for the first game of its kind to be streamed via the internet.
A Minimum Internet Speed of 25MBPS Is Required
While most households typically have decent internet speeds, there is a requirement for Google Stadia to work right. According to Google, the minimum internet speed needs to be a constant 25 MBPS for the service to work as it could. And, it’s important to remember that this requirement could change in the future, especially when it comes to streaming at higher quality like 8k, for example. Regardless, your run-of-the-mill, entry-level internet package probably won’t cut it. Most people will be okay, but for those that live in rural areas or places with few options, this could pose a problem.
Likely A Subscription Service Similar to Netflix
There’s no word on exactly how the streaming service will work as far as cost. It will likely be similar to Netflix, only for games. The problem will boil down to cost. Something tells us that $10 or $12 a month just isn’t going to cut it if Stadia actually takes off and becomes the next go-to for AAA titles. It will also require a balancing act, though, as asking gamers to pay $50 a month for access to the entire library might be tough while charging a per-game subscription cost could also be an issue. Best guesses at this point predict that pricing will fall somewhere in the $30 range for complete access to the entire library, but Google could stagger pricing, much like Netflix does with SD and HD streaming as well as the number of devices that can connect at one time.
Doom Eternal Could Be One of the First Games Available
As for what games will be available on Stadia, that is quite the mystery. Google has showcased Doom Eternal playing on Stadia, but nobody has actually had to the chance to play it yet. The problem with the Stadia is that Google’s servers run on Linux and, as such, it’ll be difficult for game producers to port their titles over to the new streaming service. Google has apparently partnered with Unreal, Unity, and Havok, among others, but the company needs to convince other big names to put the time, effort, and money into developing for the Stadia streaming service as well. Regardless of what happens, at least we’ll be able to slay demons in Doom Eternal, right?
Google Will Make Its Own Games Via “Stadia Games and Entertainment”
While Google will rely on game studios to supply its library of games – much like Sony and Microsoft do for the most part – the brand is also taking a page from the competition’s playbook and will begin designing and streaming its own games as well. Stadia Games and Entertainment is a new first-party games studio that will be developing games exclusive to the Stadia streaming system. There’s no word as to what games or what type of games it’s going to make but, if Stadia can host its own must-have game, then it would give the streaming service a good kick in the right direction. Word has it that the Stadia could launch with as many as 20 exclusive games when it goes on sale later this year.
More Than 100 Game Studios Already Have Development Kits
While Google certainly has its work cut out for it when it comes to convincing all major games studios to develop games for the Stadia (remember, most studios can’t just port over their games), Google claims that more than 100 studios already have full development kits. That means they’ve all signed on or at least promised to put effort into producing their games for the Stadia streaming service alongside Xbox, PS4, Nintendo, and PC.
Google Servers Run on Linux and a Custom AMD GPU with 10.7 Teraflops of Power
As you can imagine, game streaming – especially for potentially millions of people – will require some hardcore power. Well, Google’s servers run on Linux and feature a custom AMD GPU with 10.7 Teraflops of power. That’s more than double what the PS4 pro offers with 4.2 teraflops and 4.7 teraflops more than the Xbox One X at 6. Of course, this doesn’t mean a whole lot as what will matter that most is your internet connection to the Stadia service. Much like Netflix does with its 4K streaming service, the data stream from Stadia will be compressed, which means quality will drop just a bit. So, just like Netflix 4k movies don’t look as good as they do on Blueray, Stadia games probably won’t look quite as good as they would playing locally, either.
The Google Stadia Launches in the U.S. Canada, and the U.K. In 2019
Google has already started hyping up the Stadia streaming service, and it will, in fact, go on sale sometime this year. There’s no specific release date as of yet, but it will hit U.S., U.K., and Canadian markets. Our best guess is that it’ll come toward the end of the year around September or October – just in time for the usual holiday rush that every other console producer tries to take advantage of.