After months of rumors and a brief trial called Project Stream, Google’s game streaming service is now official and officially called Stadia. It allows gamers to stream games from the cloud to phones, computers, and TV screens (via Chromecast dongles), turning almost any device into a console.
In the same way that you could stream a Spotify playlist or a Netflix movie to your web browser, Google Stadia will do the same with games. As internet speeds improve around the world, it looks like this is the long-term future of gaming, and Microsoft has a very similar service in the pipeline as well.
Many key details about Stadia – including when it will go live – have yet to be announced, but we do know that the streams will be up to 4K resolution at 60fps and will also offer support. HDR.
Tight integration with YouTube means players will be able to instantly jump into a game they’re watching a preview, and even line up to play alongside or against content creators on the platform.
Stadia will offer a special sharing feature called State Share, which allows players to connect to a specific point in a game – a specific position, at a specific time, with a specific set of items, etc. This means that friends could all take on the same challenge at the same time in the game, for example.
Google Assistant will also be integrated, and Google has shown how it can be used to display walkthroughs for a particular level or challenge, right in-game.
Another cool feature we’ve already seen in demonstration is how different art styles can be applied to a real-time game world. The trick harnesses Google’s advanced artificial intelligence engines and can transform the world you find yourself in while you play.
Streaming games have a lot of advantages: you don’t need a particularly powerful (or expensive) device at home, for example, and that means jumping between devices and continuing to play where you left off. should also be simple. There’s no need to wait for downloads or apply updates, as all of the heavy lifting is done in the cloud.
There are also some big question marks – like what kind of internet connection speed you’ll need for this to work (Google hasn’t said that yet), and the issue of latency between pressing a button and further action on the screen.
Google is trying to alleviate this latency issue with its own controller for Stadia, which connects directly to Google’s servers rather than the device you’re playing on. That should mean a gaming experience that’s responsive enough to work.
Google hasn’t said anything about the cost of a Stadia membership, and has also been quiet about what games will be available there – although we do know that Google is launching its own in-house development studio to work on some exclusive Stadia.
While we don’t have an official launch date yet, Google says Stadia is on its way to 2019, with the US, Canada, UK and Europe topping the list. You can register your interest now on the Stadia website.