Today, in a live-streamed presentation from San Francisco, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai revealed his company's plans for streaming games to devices around the world. The platform, Stadia, is "purpose-built" for modern games.
Pichai told the room that he wants to build a platform for players, viewers, and developers before launching into an advert that looks straight out of an episode of Silicon Valley. Lots of stock footage, inspirational music, and a somewhat vapid voice over. But, let's not focus on that, it's the tech that's impressive.
It's a game client that will stream high-quality feeds of games to pretty much any screen you might have in your house.
Phil Harrison, formerly of Microsoft - and, before that, Sony - took to the stage to explain more of how Stadia will work. You could be watching a trailer for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on YouTube, click a 'Play Now' button to load straight into the game on your desktop, and start playing there and then.
Harrison went on to to say that at launch Stadia would let people play games on desktop, laptop, TV and phones. You can switch between the screens seamlessly, picking up the action on each device without having to restart or load to an earlier place in the game. This means you can now play AAA games on your TV without owning any console.
Harrison also confirmed that you can play games on Stadia with controllers you already own, such as the Xbox controller that's already supported on PC. Though, he did also reveal the Stadia controller.
The Google Stadia controller
It looks much like a generic pad, but it also features two special buttons. The capture button, that allows you to record clips to share on YouTube; and the Google Assistant button, that lets you activate the controller's microphone to talk to the game and activate unique voice-operated features.
Google is in a prime place to do this tech better than most. "Stadia is built on infrastructure that no one else has," the VP of Project Stream, Majd Bakar, said. Which is a shot fired at any competitors currently working on streaming technology *cough* Microsoft *cough*.
When Stadia launches it will support 4K at 60fps with HDR and surround sound. Which is impressive (though, how tied this is to your internet speeds isn't clear). Apparently there will be the possibility to stream in 8K in the future.
One clever feature is that whatever you're streaming to your home screen, a second 4k stream is sent to YouTube, so your clips and streams can be higher quality than what you actually see at home.
The Stadia hardware is currently with some 100 studios, and Google is forming Stadia Games and Entertainment, its own internal development studio - which is being headed by Jade Raymond. The SGaE team will work with a number of partner studios, to get their games onto Stadia, sharing tools and tech as necessary.
Raymond said: "There has never been a more exciting time to be a developer."
Harrison closed by saying Stadia would be released in 2019, and it would first come out in the US, Canada, UK, and *most* of Europe. (Sorry, Everywhere Else.)
He added that more details about what games will be launching on the platform will be announced in the summer - though, he didn't say if Stadia was going to be present at E3. (Makes sense though, doesn't it?)
This all looks very impressive. But that said, we still have a number of questions. Mainly, what sort of an internet connection will we need to use Stadia? How much will it cost? And will we be able to buy games outright, or will everything we spend on it only amount to a streaming pass?
Featured Image Credit: Google