“The future of gaming is not a box”, quipped Google’s Stadia Twitter account. Possibly not-so-subtle jibe at the venerable Xbox, Stadia instead claims it instead is a “place for all the ways we play”. At GDC 2019, Google expands its purview of technological hardware and services to include gaming.
The future of gaming is not a box. It's a place.
— Stadia (@GoogleStadia) March 19, 2019
Touted as a platform that brings together gamers and spectators in a virtual stadium as “the future of games”. Users are able to access top-notch gaming titles regardless of hardware, relying instead on cloud computing to drive frames on your device.
This is powered by Google’s extensive data centres network around the world, connected by fibre optic and subsea cables, with more than 7,500 edge nodes. Additionally, the reliability and predictability of Google’s data centre network ensures low-latency gameplay and enhanced security.
In a demo at the event, Google execs showcased how casual browsing on YouTube (a video streaming service also owned by Google), might land you on a gaming-related video clip such as a trailer. By simply clicking on a “Play Now” link, viewers can instantaneously launch the title within Chrome, and even stream it on lobbies for fans to join and play with them on YouTube. Stadia even offers the ability to instantly clip footage for upload onto YouTube.
With Google’s high-powered data network, users can look forward to 4K 60fps HDR gameplay with surround-sound. The system is also future-proofed with sufficient capacity for 8K 120fps. It also enables 4K 60fps recording straight to YouTube. Google even hinted at the possibility of thousands of players taking part in a battle royale-style game in the near future.
It also means that its cloud computing solution provides far greater graphics performance than the best consoles on the market right now.
In addition to Stadia’s promise to bring games to a wider variety of users, and gaming to a wider audience, it also enables gamers to switch between gaming platforms seamlessly with Google’s ecosystem of devices and services. They demonstrated the ability to move from a laptop, straight to a phone, desktop, tablet and TV with Chromecast.
Players can use their existing controllers, but Google’s newest addition to their hardware family, the Stadia Controller, is optimised for the experience. Most notably, the Stadia Controller directly connects to Google’s data centre via Wi-Fi for the best performance possible. On board are two dedicated controls that enable capturing game experiences straight to Youtuber, and summoning the Google Assistant for special in-game features built in by developers.
With Google’s extensive ecosystem encompassing Chrome, YouTube, Android and Chromecast, Stadia brings gaming titles and content, adding a mesh of interoperability and a dash of cloud computing to enable as wide an audience to take part in the action. Google hinted at future support for alternative browsers, but there was no mention of any of the products or services by its main competitor, Apple.
Google’s Stadia service seems to be completely reliant on data connectivity to access its cloud computing servers, which poses a limitation for those who are located in more remote locations far from Google’s network of data centres. The burgeoning 5G network infrastructure promises to alleviate this issue, but it remains to be seen.