GOOGLE has revealed a new gaming platform called Stadia, that will bring top-quality games to any device you want later this year.
The vision is for a “game platform for everyone” with games that load as easily as web pages, and will be in the US, Canada, the UK and much of Europe.
Thousands of players can, in theory, share the same incredibly complex, changing world using Stadia technology
The new tech, first shown off last year with a demo of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, means that Google “can bring any AAA game to any computer with a Chrome browser.”It will work on any screen you want — at launch, it is promised to work seamlessly on TVs, mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers.
A demo showed off the technology working on a tablet, a phone, a laptop and a TV using a Chromecast dongle — with the player’s progress moving seamlessly from one screen to the other.
Google’s Phil Harrison demoed the technology, showing off how a gamer could simply click ‘play’ on a YouTube gaming video, and play the game “within 5 seconds”.
He also revealed the new Google Stadia controller, which connects via Wi-Fi directly to the computer running your game in a Google data centre.
The Stadia controllers link directly with the data centre computer running the game in question
The games are promised to run at 4K at launch, at 60FPS, and in HDR.
The stream will also be also be streamed directly to YouTube, which will get the same stream being pushed to your computer and captured for posterity or streamed live.
In future, the platform will support 8K streams as well.
What games will it have?
After Assassin’s Creed, id revealed Doom Eternal was already running on Stadia.
First-person shooters such as Doom are traditionally the hardest to get running on this sort of platform, because they are the most sensitive to input lag — the difference in time between pushing a button on your controller and seeing the result on screen.
For streaming platforms, that lag is traditionally the biggest problem because the signals from the controller need to travel all the way to the data centre, then graphical information needs to come all the way back, compared to PC or console gaming which run locally.
More information on mainstream developers and titles will be released this summer.
What can it do?
Developers for Stadia will be able to set games up to use multiple computers in the data centre at once to create more realistic games than ever.
The games running in the data centre rather than in homes will enable much bigger multiplayer games too, because they don’t rely on communication across the public internet.
1,000-player battles royale should now be possible, along with much more complex worlds for existing massively multiplayer games.
Another feature promised is Crowd Play, which will let users join a queue to join the precise session of a game someone streaming on YouTube is playing.
Those interested in testing out the service are invited to sign up online.
They also confirmed plans to support other browsers at a later date.
The demo showed a player switching from phone, to PC to TV seamlessly, picking up where they left off each time
Doom Eternal is promised to run at 4K, 60FPS
The presentation started with gaming icons appearing from clouds
Google boss Sundar Pichai took to the stage at the Game Developers’ Conference to reveal the firm had been working on the “hard computer science problems” behind the new project for years.
Google has been “building towards this mission for some time,” with Chrome built from the ground up to support game streaming and similar activities, Pichai said.
The one issue not addressed is how fast an internet connection it is going to need to work seamlessly, or what sort of latency between your local network and the Google data centre will be required for the ideal gameplay experience.
The HD-quality Assassin’s Creed test required a 25Mbps internet connection, and a 4K video feed is likely to require significantly faster speeds, probably over 100Mbps.
The firm teased the announcement last week.
News of the announcement had previously been hinted at by a patent application that detailed some aspects of the controller.
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Microsoft’s Project xCloud works on very similar principles, and Amazon is also reported to be working on something very similar.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft between them provide the lion’s share of cloud computing resources across the world — anyone, including Sony or Nintendo, looking to offer a competing service at the moment would realistically have to piggyback on their services.
Video game streaming – how does it work?We explain it all…
When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
That’s why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you’ll do next
That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you’ll need to fork out for an expensive computer
Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
The idea is that a company like Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
Then it would send what’s effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it’s not the phone itself rendering the graphics
It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you’d need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
But game streaming hasn’t had any great successes thus far
Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s online-only Xbox One, which we might get to see next month, seems unlikely to feature much streaming at launch. It will focus on games sold through the Xbox Store or downloaded via Game Pass and still run on the box itself.
If you’re looking forward to more traditional next-generation gaming hardware, though, never fear. The PS5 is just around the corner, and so is the Xbox 2. We’ve even rounded up the differences and similarities around the two for you.
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