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Today, at Google’s GDC 2019 keynote, the company had a very big announcement to make in the form of Stadia.
To put it simply: Stadia is a streaming service that will allow people to play big-name and high-end games without having to own the latest or greatest hardware, software, or fancy gadgets.
Stadia is expected out in 2019. It will launch first in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. There will be more details on the service available in summer.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and self-confessed ‘not a big gamer’, placed a lot of emphasis on how they want to make technology accessible to and enjoyable for everyone.
Phil Harrison explained the vision for Stadia as “one place for all the games we play”, with the intention to bring players, creators, and those who watch gaming-related content together in one place. Harrison explained that games are now the single biggest form of entertainment on the planet, with over 2 billion players across the globe.
Stadia was first tested in late 2018 with Project Stream, streaming Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to computers.
How it works is fairly simple: after clicking on links embedded in YouTube videos, players can start to play certain games in their browser in as little as 5 seconds.
Stadia aims to eradicate downloads, patches, and wait times. Google want to bring Stadia to almost every single ‘screen’. At launch, the list of screens will include desktops, laptops, TVs, and phones. Stadia would have no console to limit ideas or where gamers can play. All of the hard work would be done in Google’s cloud service.
Stadia will support most game controllers, meaning you can use virtually any pre-existing game controller you may have on a device.
However, Google will also have their own controller for the Stadia, aptly named the “Stadia Controller”. The controller is WiFi enabled to seamlessly connect to any device you want to play on.
The Stadia controller also has two ‘very important’ new buttons – the capture button, which allows you to share your experiences directly to YouTube, and the Google Assistant button, which immediately allows players to access the controller’s microphone to talk to the Google Assistant.
The Google Assistant button will also allow players to use the microphone to talk to in-game features that developers can build into their games.
Majd Bakar explained the technology behind Stadia, explaining that it’s built on cutting edge technology and works off over 7,500 edge node locations around the globe.
Stadia is set to support up to 4K, 60FPS, HDR, and surround sound at launch. They’re set to support 8K resolution and 120+ FPS in the future. Google have also partnered with AMD to create a special GPU. At the moment, the PS4 Pro’s GPU runs at 4.2 teraflops and the Xbox One’s runs at 6.0 teraflops. Stadia is set to run at 10.7.
They’ve also partnered with plenty of other companies including Linux, Vulkan, Unreal Engine, Unity, Havok, and many others. id Software executive producer Marty Stratton spoke about how Doom Eternal was supported on the Stadia. Doom Eternal will be capable of running at 4K with HDR at 60FPS.
Stadia will also be capable of supporting several GPUs at once, allowing for higher performance and vastly improved graphics. It also aims to eradicate problems with multiplayer, resulting in reliable connectivity.
Possibly most importantly, Stadia will embrace full cross-platform play. Developers will have the option to allow multiplayer cross-play and also enable bringing across save files and states.
Stadia’s Crowd Play feature will allow viewers to join YouTube creators in-game with just the click of a button. Content creator MatPat spoke about how YouTube creators will be able to use the Stadia to not only improve their videos, but also to help connect with their audiences using Crowd Play.
Stadia will allow players to ask the Google Assistant for in-game help, such as asking how to beat a certain level in a game. The Google Assistant will automatically bring up the most helpful and relevant result, allowing players to watch a short tutorial video and then immediately get back to gaming.
Google is also forming Stadia Games and Entertainment, Google’s own first-party game studio. Jade Raymond, executive producer of games such as Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs, is head of the studio.
Developers can go to Stadia.dev to request access to development tools. There’s also Stadia Partners for anyone interested in partnerships.
You can watch the entire presentation below.
Source: Google’s GDC livestream.