Google enters $254b gaming sector with new streaming service

Yolanda Curtis
March 20, 2019

No matter what you think of online game streaming software, Stadia and the other announcements we saw coming out of GDC 2019 are promising and something for developers and consumers alike to keep in mind.

CFRA Research analyst Scott Kessler said Google's approach, which tied YouTube sharing and video-game playing, is unique. If you watch one of your favorite creators playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, simply click the "play now" button.Seconds later, you'll be running around ancient Greece in your own game/on your own adventure-no downloads, no updates, no patches and no installs. "This generation of gaming is not a box", said Phil Harrison.

This proprietary controller connects via WiFi and directly to Google's servers for a lag-free experience. A Capture button can immediately put the player's footage on YouTube, and the Google Assistant button can be used to get help from the Assistant, or potentially be used by developers to access other features or mechanics in their games. You would be able to pause and look for solutions, tips Kotaku, or use another player's save spot to continue from where they left off. In the desktop era, gaming drove CPU performance; in the cloud era, with Moore's Law winding down, there's more focus on bandwidth, throughput, and latency.

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Majd Bakar, Google's head of engineering for Stadia, told conference delegates Google's global data centre network would power the platform. By the same token, developers will no longer have to worry about down-scaling their work to suit various devices or console builds.

Google claims Stadia's graphics processing unit (GPU) will outpace its top-two competitors combined, at 10.7 teraflops (PlayStation 4 Pro at 4.2 and Xbox One X at 6.0 teraflops).

Stadia development kits have been sent out to more than 100 developers.

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The company has promised the service will offer games at 4K quality, at 60 frames per second (fps) - and up to 8K, 120 fps in future.

Google threw a bit of shade Microsoft's way by showing a demo called Destruction, in which multiple players could fly around and demolish a fully destructible environment. AMD is no stranger to gaming, particularly on consoles, but Google has traditionally leaned on Nvidia's Tesla hardware in the datacenter.

Google is hardly the first company to pursue video-game streaming, but it will be the first of the big three cloud companies to ship a service created to stream the most demanding console games, assuming everything remains on course.

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Google reportedly discussed Yeti with game developers, but it is unclear whether any of them will develop a game specifically for Yeti or only make existing streamed games available, the Information reported. Stadia is reportedly more powerful than any gaming console on the market right now, and of course has the advantage of being easier to upgrade - as hardware upgrades happen remotely at the server side.

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