Google Changes The Game
Streaming film, TV and music has become common place in modern society and Google has now outlined how video games will embrace streaming.
Stadia is Google’s new gaming platform dedicated to providing access to video games anywhere and anytime. Traditionally video games have been confined to a compatible device be it a console, PC or tablet but with Stadia the games are all processed at Google’s Data Centres and streamed to you as long as you have an internet connection. Because your device isn’t doing the heavy lifting of running the game, Google can stream the highest quality experience to you as long as your internet can meet the needs. This means 4K HDR games will be available at 60fps when Stadia launches this year, something the Xbox One X struggles to achieve. What’s more is that Google has developed Stadia to be completely iterative meaning that when 8K is ready, so will Stadia.
As well as seamless, high quality streaming Google is implementing several key features into Stadia.
Firstly is the idea of instant access.
With Stadia, Google will allow you to click a link and be playing a game nearly instantaneously. No download. No installing. No day one patch. These links will, in theory, be as simple as clicking a YouTube link to watch a video. What’s more is that this can be accessed across countless devices meaning you no longer have to have access to your console or PC in order to play the games you want. This removal of barriers could drastically increase the amount of people who access and play games, something that is only a positive for the industry as a whole.
Secondly Google is creating a platform that is scalable.
At launch Stadia will support up to 4K HDR and 60fps but as technology progresses Stadia has been designed to progress with it. This means that once 8K becomes accessible Stadia will be ready to support it as well as 120+fps. This scalability not only will impact image quality though. At launch Stadia will have more processing power than the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 combined. With the Stadia Data Centres however each unit can be linked with others to drastically improve performance. This will allow for complex graphical tasks to be performed without limiting the developers vision for a game.
Multiplayer will also benefit from Stadia.
Currently a multiplayer session is limited to the internet quality of those you are paired with when playing. This can result in lag and frustrating situations, especially in competitive situations. With Stadia having all of the processing and matchmaking taking place within the Data Centres, Google can provided predictable, low latency matchmaking across their games. This also means that online sessions aren’t limited by the lowest common internet speed, allowing battle royales of 100 players to be scaled up to 100’s if not a 1000 players when implemented through Stadia.
Google isn’t just looking to create a great streaming platform for games though. They are looking to implement new interactive features to grow and support the whole gaming community. Two of these core features are State Share and Crowd Play.
State Share allows content creators to share exactly where they are in a game, under the exact same circumstances to others via a link. This link will give access to that same moment and allow gamers to play out the scenarios they have just seen their favourite creators take on. This level of interaction opens the door to endless custom challenges and moments to not only be watched by gamers but experienced too.
Crowd Play also provides a closer link with creators but this time allowing players to specifically join them. With Crowd Play a link can be provided on a live stream of a game that allows players to join their favourite creators lobby or session seamlessly with one click. Breaking down these barriers of connectivity between creators and gamers will lead to a greater level of interaction and connection to their audiences.
As with most gaming platforms Google has also created a controller to fully take advantage of Stadia’s features.
The Stadia Controller will allow for seamless access to the games you play with built-in WiFi. The WiFi will allow the controller to connect directly to Google’s Data Centre’s and then syncs with what ever game you are playing on your chosen device to provide a low latency experience. As well as WiFi connectivity the Stadia controller features a share button which allows you to instantly share your footage and save to YouTube. A Google Assistant button on the Stadia Controller will allow you to get help in games in an even more intuitive way. Before you’d have to leave your device, go to YouTube, find a walk through, scrub to the part you need and then find out how to complete that section. With the Stadia Controller though you can just click the Google Assistant button, ask for help with the built-in microphone and the exact walk through you need will be overlayed on your screen.
It is this detail to the user experience which Google is trying to maximise in order to stand out from the competition. They announced that they have started Stadia Games and Entertainment which will be developing exclusive titles for Stadia but until then they will be relying on their innovative technology to really sell the service. With Microsoft also set to reveal their XCloud plans they might have more competition than they hoped for but if they can achieve what they outlined at GDC they could very well be set to break into an extremely competitive market.
Google’s Stadia is set to launch 2019 in the USA, Canada, UK and most of Europe and Google will be revealing more about the service as well as games coming to the platform this summer.