Google Announces Stadia, a Gaming Platform for Everyone

Google today announced Stadia, a gaming platform designed for everyone.

At GDC 2019, Google unveiled their vision for the future of the games industry, Stadia. A streaming platform, Stadia aims to deliver high-fidelity AAA games to players on any device. The company argued that the future of the industry isn’t through a new box, but through a data center capable of delivering games straight to players. In short, Stadia aims to get players playing with little friction.

Ex-Sony and Xbox executive Phil Harrison shared a hypothetical scenario. A player watches a trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on YouTube and becomes enraptured by what they see. From there, they can click a ‘Play Now’ button that drops them straight into the game within five seconds. No downloads, installs, or patches required. Google didn’t mention other barriers, such as cost.

Google won’t release a console or box for Stadia. Instead, it’ll work with laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, and TVs. What platforms (iOS, Amazon, etc.) Stadia supports at launch have yet to be announced. All of this is powered through a custom GPU for Stadia’s server-side processing built by AMD. It offers 10.7 teraflops of power and 16GB of memory. Consequently, Google promises Stadia will support 4K resolution at 60 frames-per-second at launch with 8K planned for the future.

The data centers benefits extend to multiplayer. By hosting the game client and server on the data center, Stadia hopes to ensure a predictable multiplayer experience that’s larger and more robust than what’s currently available. Google showcased a tech demo that featured a persistent destructible environment with low-latency. There was also a demo for Stream Connect, a way to enable split-screen co-op without any performance penalty.

Google promised that Stadia supports cross-platform play, though they declined to elaborate on what that support looks like. Expect more details about compatibility closer to launch.

Google’s YouTube platform has long been a hotbed for game content, and Stadia provides built-in access to YouTube. Players can use Google Assistant to find, discover, and share game content. They can also hop in and play with creators while they are streaming through Stream Connect.

Stadia launches sometime in 2019. More details regarding pricing, availability, and launch titles will be revealed this summer.