We’ve known about it for weeks. We’ve seen images of “leaked”, flat-white controllers and the vague promo videos. Something gaming-related was coming from Google.
At GDC 2019, Google took the stage for an hour-long presentation to unveil their latest venture, video games. However, since this is Google, they wanted to think outside of the box, if you will, and develop something that would utilize technology most consumers already own, a phone, laptop, tablet, computer, and TV. Something that could seamlessly integrate their stand-out video platform, YouTube, in a way never-before imagined. Something that would potentially turn the gaming world upside-down.
That’s when Stadia came to be.
Google Stadia is a new gaming platform from Google that will seamlessly turn every device people have into a video game console. Just by going to YouTube and watching a trailer, gamers can select the “Play” button and immediately be whisked away to a AAA title like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, as the presentation showed, in 4K quality at 60 fps with HDR and surround sound. Furthermore, you can even switch between devices and play right where you left off. No discs, no downloads, just hop right into any game you want by using Google data centers.
In a lot of ways, Stadia will be a interesting mesh of console, PC, and mobile gaming, as it will allow gamers to use their favorite video game controller, so long as it is connected via USB, while people play on the go. The alternative to that, though, would be to use Google’s own Stadia controller (pictured), which will include a share/stream button and access to Google Assistant to help you find videos to beat the game. What’s cool about this, the video they find will load up in-frame so it doesn’t take you away from the game, itself.
Stadia will also include features that connects YouTube creators to their audience with Crowd Play and State Share. With Crowd Play, fans have the opportunity to enter a queue, while their favorite YouTube Creator is playing a competitive game. Once it’s their turn, they can immediately participate and be part of the gaming experience with the YouTube Creator, as the YouTube community watches. As for State Share, it’s a fascinating idea that will theoretically thrust audiences into similar situations and scenes the YouTube Creators are going through, at that time, to see if they can do it differently or experience things similar to the YouTube Creator.
The rest of presentation focused on information specifically for devs, with different studios coming out to show support like Head of Tequila Works Luz Sancho and id Software’s Marty Stratton. Interestingly enough, Stratton actually announced that DOOM Eternal would be making its way to Stadia, thus making it the first new confirmed AAA title for the infant platform.
While the Stadia has a ton of potential, there are several things Google will need to make known and develop before they release, later this year. First, what is the price of Stadia? Second, what titles will we be able to access? Third, how strong of an internet connection do we need to experience the seamless integration without any lag? For the third, we look to a report from Digital Foundry who says,
“Google also offers developers a ‘worst case scenario’ mode to allow for testing in adverse conditions, which simulates a poor, noisy 15mbps DSL connection.”
As of now, the gaming world is split with some excited and others out on the idea of Stadia. The important takeaway that everyone should take from this announcement, isn’t about Stadia, itself, though. It’s about what this means for the future of video games. Win, lose, or draw, regardless of what happens with Stadia (are we really set on this name because I’ve written Strada and Stevia 4 times already), this type of cloud-based on-demand platform could be the future of gaming, much like Netflix, Hulu, and countless other services have been for Movies and TV. 5-10 years from now, we could be living in a world where massive rectangular boxes and physical video games are a thing of the past. Our gaming could be all done on an 8K Playstation Vue TV or Xbox Live TV. With the console wars preparing to begin, it’s a fascinating thought and one to ponder on as we prepare to purchase whatever Next-Gen console may be on the way.
The Google Stadia will release later in 2019.