Google Announces Stadia, a Cloud-Based Gaming Platform

Exclusives can be a company’s bread and butter, but some companies want to mix things up a bit in big ways.

Google is in no way a stranger to exclusives of its own, just like Apple, but the company wants to expand access to video games in a big way. Today, during the trade event GDC for video game developers, Google unveiled what it calls Stadia. This is not a dedicated video game console by any means, but rather a cloud-based platform where games will be accessible from a variety of devices. That will include web browsers, TVs, computers, and mobile devices.

On stage, Google showed this off by starting a game in a Chrome web browser, continuing to play the game on a phone, and then jumping over to a PC to finish the session. In each case, the player was able to switch devices without losing their place in the game. And Google says its technology means it can stream games up to 60 fps, with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 4K resolution.

Beyond that, Google says it plans on having games support up to 8K resolution and 120 fps frame rate support. But that won’t happen anytime soon.

Google is launching a hardware component to the mix. It’s a dedicated gaming controller (pictured just above), which includes four face buttons, shoulder buttons, and a pair of analog joysticks. There will also be a dedicated “Share” button that will let gamers easily connect to YouTube. There is also a dedicated button for Google Assistant as well.

Google is relying on streaming here, which makes sense considering the reach that Google is aiming for. The company says players will be able to play games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in seconds, on any of those devices. Google showed it off on stage, but that’s a closed demonstration so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out in the real world.

Google wants this to be a way to break down barriers that are currently in place so players have access to more games. Of course, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has been one of the major releases to get love from Google and its Project Stream, but that’s a title that isn’t restricted by any kind of exclusivity agreements and it’s widely available across consoles.

One of the more interesting elements is the ability to quicly launch into a game you are watching on YouTube. So if you are watching a title you like, and if there is a button that says something like “Play Now” you’ll be able to just start playing the title right away:

“The idea is wild: Google Vice President Phil Harrison took to the stage and showed how players will be able to load up a YouTube trailer. At the end of an official trailer, you might see a button that says “Play Now,” and pressing it will launch you straight into whatever game you were watching within seconds. You’ll be able to play straight from the browser itself.”

Will Google be able to actually make games more accessible to players? On a broad scheme, yes — players won’t need to buy a primary video game console, like an Xbox One S/X or even a Nintendo Switch to play games. They’ll just need a browser. But will Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony give up their exclusives? Probably not, no.

Google says Stadia will launch in 2019, but no exact date was provided.

Details are still coming in. Check out the promotional video for Stadia just below.

What do you think of the idea?

[via Polygon]