Google has officially unveiled its long-rumored game streaming service during a keynote at GDC earlier today.
The service, called Google Stadia, will allow users to play AAA video games on any device. At launch, Stadia will be available on any desktop computer, laptop, TV, phone, or tablet. Stadia is the full release of Project Stream, which allowed users to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a Google Chrome browser window. While Project Stream only streamed up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, Stadia will support streams up to 4K at 60 frames per second with full HDR and surround sound support. In the future, Stadia will even support 8K streaming.
The Stadia controller was also unveiled alongside the service. It’s available in three different colors and will connect to Google’s data centers hosting the game through Wi-Fi to minimize latency. It has joysticks, a d-pad, and just about everything else you’d expect from a standard video game controller, but it also has a share button like the Dualshock 4 and Joy-Con controllers as well as a Google Assistant button which will allow you to ask for help with whatever game you’re playing using the controller’s built-in microphone. Stadia will also work with any controllers you already own, too.
Stadia will come with an array of features specific to the service. YouTube videos of certain games will have a “play now” button that will let you start playing the game through a Stadia stream. Stream Connect aims to bring back split-screen gaming, enabling multiple streams of the same game on one device. Crowd Play lets streamers open up their games to their audience, creating a lobby for viewers to wait in until they get to play with the streamer. State Share lets you create an exact copy of your game’s state down to the contents of your inventory and the amount of health you have left, which you can then share with others through a generated link. Other players can then go experience the exact moment you shared with them.
Google has partnered with Unreal and Unity, two of the most popular game engines in the industry, and both will fully support Stadia. Google revealed a number of other partners ranging from Havok to Cryengine, so there’s no shortage of initial support for the platform.
Because Stadia is a cloud-based platform, developers don’t have to neuter their visions for their games to meet certain hardware requirements. A single Stadia instance is more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X combined according to Google, and developers will no longer be held back by hardware restrictions.
While Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was primarily featured throughout the keynote, other games were shown as well. Doom Eternal, the follow up to 2016’s Doom reboot, will be playable on Stadia at a 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with HDR. Other unannounced titles were hinted at, but they haven’t been revealed yet.
Multiplayer was another key point of the presentation. Because every game will be hosted through Google’s data centers rather than the players’ internet connections, there will be minimal latency because the experience won’t be held back by the player with the slowest connection. Stadia will also support cross-platform play and cross-progression if developers allow it.
Google will be creating exclusive first-party content through Stadia Games and Entertainment, headed by former Ubisoft executive and industry veteran Jade Raymond.
Stadia is slated to launch this year in the United States, Canada, UK, and Europe. More information is set to come this summer, but whether or not that means news will come at E3 remains to be known.