Google has announced ‘Stadia’ during GDC’s gaming announcement today, which takes aim at the way we traditionally play and buy games. Stadia will allow players to play their favorite games—as well as games made exclusively for Stadia—via streaming, which means you can say goodbye to installing, downloading, and updating games, and say goodbye to having to upgrade your PC and console. Instead, say hello to video game streaming. It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?
Stadia uses the power of essentially-unlimited GPU’s in order to provide developers as much power as they need when developing games, which means they will no longer be constrained by the traditional restraints currently in place with consoles and PC’s. According to Google, this means that you could have 1000 player battle royale games as opposed to 100 player battle royale games. When playing a single player game you will be using one Stadia instance, which boasts 10.7 teraflops of raw GPU power (4.7 more than the Xbox One X).
Google already has game studios working on porting their games over to the platform. Ubisoft are likely to be one of these studios as Assassins Creed: Odyssey was one of the games streamed during the Stadia beta, and we’ve seen Doom running on the service.
From what we’ve seen of Stadia so far it runs extremely smoothly when compared to other, failed game streaming services such as OnLive. This will of course be due to the server capacity (and money) that Google has as they have a data center in almost every country. We haven’t yet seen how well it runs online multiplayer games and more specifically games like Call of Duty, where even the slightest bit of latency can make an unplayable experience, but considering Google spoke of battle royale games a lot during the stream I’m hopeful that it will run these type of games fine.
Of course, the success of Stadia will not only come down to how well the games run but also the price. Stadia will be a service, so it will most definitely command a monthly subscription, the price of which is still unknown, but Google has been known to price their products and services low in order to gain users, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it priced around the same as the Xbox Game Pass, which currently costs £7.99. Whether this will include a full games library is yet to be seen but it’s unlikely, so in the long run it might actually be more expensive than a console, but this is just speculation as no official pricing has been released yet.
Other features of Stadia include:
- ‘Crowd Play‘ which will allow you to jump into the same game as your favorite YouTube streamer
- ‘State Share‘ which will allow your friends to take over your game
- The ability to link the game to your controller so you can move to a different TV easily and continue where you left off
- Google Assistant has been built right into the service, which might sound a bit silly at first, but Google gave an example of how this can be used when you’re stuck at a certain point in a game; instead of getting your phone out and trying to find the answer online you can simply ask Google Assistant for the answer.
Quite surprisingly, Stadia is launching this year which in my opinion is a great time to launch, as we’re coming towards the end of the current generation of consoles and things are getting a little stale. If Stadia is as good as they say it will be then they have the opportunity to clean up, as there will be no need to buy a new console if all of the games (excluding exclusives) can be played without having bulky hardware or being constrained to playing in one room. There literally couldn’t have been a better time for this service to launch.
Microsoft are also working on a streaming console, but it’s not clear if this will be the next gen console, but after this announcement by Google I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft launch a streaming console next year, possibly alongside the traditional disc-in consoles.