Google bets on a console-free gaming experience over IP with Stadia game streaming

Gaming in the lounge room is evolving rapidly and Google are entering the market (the US market for now). Stadia is a gaming service that not only let you stream games to play them, but also stream games to watch them.

Stadia is cross platform, enabling gamers to play from Desktops, Laptops, Tablets, phones and the TV.

Google says that when Stadia launches, it’ll run at 4K 60fps. That level of quality would obviously be dependant on your internet connection. This raises the curly question of Australia’s vast array of internet connection speeds.

While some lucky people (like myself) have FTTP running at close to 93Mbps down and 35Mbps up, many of the country don’t have access to speeds anywhere near that. When you appreciate that a majority of TVs being sold today are 4K and most houses have 2 or 3 TVs, it’s likely a household needs to facilitate streaming video content like Netflix or YouTube, while also simultaneously supporting new services like Stadia.

Remember when our Prime Minister couldn’t imagine use cases that would require more than 25Mbps, we’re there already and the NBN project isn’t even complete.

Here’s the one that’ll make your NBN really sad. Google says they’re not stopping at 4K60, in the future, they want to enable 8K, 120+ fps.

At launch Stadia will only be available in the US in 2019, but expect it to expand internationally over time. Google have servers in 19 regions, 58 zones across 200+ countries and territories. So with the right connections in user’s homes, its little more than flicking a switch to expand the Stadia into a new location.

Google are all about cloud services, so naturally Stadia leverages their platform strengths so any device with a Chrome browser can play. Google does say they plan to support more browsers and platforms over time. In theory, this should be possible using any HTML5-compatible browser like Edge, Safari or Firefox.

Above is a picture of the controller for Stadia. It’s basically what we expected from the renders a couple weeks back. The design is familiar, however the surprise is that the quad buttons on the right are actually labelled X, Y, B, A – notably in the same sequence than the Xbox controller.

Having this labelling means developers will want to use this labelling in their games, while prior to this Stadia controller, on-screen virtual buttons enabled the developers freedom to choose their own.

The controller connects over WiFi to Google’s data centers. You can also use existing USB controllers (read Xbox controller) when playing on a laptop or desktop.

The Stadia Controller features a built-in Assistant button which uses the built-in microphone to enable voice commands. The other new button is the capture button, enabling you to stream privately, to your friends or to the world (over YouTube).

If you had any doubts how serious Google were with Stadia, look no further than this. Developers will have the chance to integrate a ‘Play Now’ button into their YouTube channel.

This means that if you’re on the official YouTube Channel for a game and you’re watching a video about a game, you’re likely to the button to start Stadia. Google says clicking this will have you in the game and playing within 5 seconds (in the browser).

The goal posts for gaming just changed considerably.

There’s no download, install, patching and updates, just play the game because everything streams to you and you’re inputs are streamed back to the service. The big achievement here is that Google have lowered the latency on this and are able to do this at scale.

If you missed the event, you can check out the full replay of Google’s GDC Keynote below.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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