Imagine a world where it didn’t matter how old or janky your computer was to enjoy the latest and greatest gaming titles. Okay, maybe don’t blow the dust off of your old Celeron PC just yet, but we’re now closer than ever to making gaming accessible to all – anywhere, anytime.
Google recently unveiled its cloud gaming service – Stadia. With nothing more than a click on the Chrome browser, you can stream even the most graphically exhaustive game with zero lag. 4K 60fps gaming with no installation ever and loads in 5 seconds. That, at least, is the idea.
Google has promised that its hardware will pack a punch. Its computing power is said to be equivalent to a console running at 10.7 GPU terraflops – far more than what the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro is capable of combined!
Instead of investing in high-end hardware, Stadia will allow users to stream the game to whatever computer they want to use – removing the high barrier to entry most users face. Google will handle all the processing on its own servers, which can run the latest version of the game at high resolutions and frame rates, encode it into a stream, and deliver the stream to you over the internet.
Google has promised that Stadia will support desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones – without the need for a hardware box, and instead, running on Google’s own data centre.
Set to launch at some point in 2019, there’s still much to learn but Google’s Stadia serves as an impressive showcase of what the future of cloud gaming could look like – a ‘Netflix for gaming’ opening up the next generation of game-play. Google hasn’t let it all slip though: no official details yet on the pricing and it’s still unclear how you pay for it all – pay for individual games, or pay for a subscription pass, or a combination of both?
How Google Stadia works
As you can imagine, an internet connection – a fast and stable one at that – is of the utmost importance. That and a recently desktop version of the Google Chrome browser is all you need to get started with Google Stadia.
Getting started with a videogame on Stadia is simple enough. Open up a new tab up in Chrome and go to the service’s Stadia.com homepage, or even jump from a YouTube video link about the game.
After a quick connection test to check your internet bandwidth, the latency between your computer and the servers, and any data loss, you’ll be ready to dive into a game. Google requires a streaming rate of 15Mbps, latency below 40ms, and data loss below 5%.
The beta of Project Stream showed off Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is nothing short of a demanding title, run exactly as if it has been launched on a proper gaming computer (sans the deep graphics settings menu). You can even plug-in peripherals like a keyboard and mouse or a game controller to play it your way.
All your inputs are sent over to Google’s servers, processed in the game, and streamed right back to you. The limits of Stadia are still being detailed but Google has stated that Stadia will eventually be able to scale up to 8K / 120+fps frame rates, with 4K/ 60 fps play as the norm.
Stadia will also work well with Google Chromecast, which means you’ll be able to stream its games straight to any TV using Google’s streaming dongle, not to mention phones and computers.
In addition, it’ll support cross-platform multiplayer – but the other major game players will need to play nice so don’t hold your breath just yet. The Google Assistant integration will also allow you to access guides and walkthroughs on-demand.
But, perhaps the biggest development for all the streamers, content creators, and their viewers, is Crowd Play which will allow viewers to play games with their favourite streamers by simply clicking a button. You could literally just jump into a game with your favourite streamer while you’re watching a stream.
Gaming is no longer just something people do on a day off and every day, we see it happen. From the rise of mobile gaming to battle royale frenzies all around, gaming has become more accessible and engaging for many and development of groundbreaking ideas like Stadia are changing the game, literally.