Google unveils video game streaming platform Stadia

Cloud streaming service set to launch in the US, Canada and Europe in 2019

Google has announced its new cloud video game streaming platform, called Stadia.

Revealed during a keynote presentation at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, it’s set to launch in 2019 in the US, Canada and selected European countries, including the UK. Pricing details have yet to be confirmed.

“Our vision for Stadia is simple,” said the platform’s vice president and GM, Phil Harrison. ”One place for all the ways we play, where the worlds of watching and playing games converge into a new generation gaming platform, to connect game developers with players and YouTube creators in a way that only Google can.

“On Stadia, you just need to click on a YouTube video or link and you can be playing your game instantly with no download, no update, no patch and no install.”

At launch, Stadia games will be playable on computers, TVs, tablets and mobiles. Google has partnered with AMD to create a custom 10.7 teraflops graphics chip — more powerful than Xbox One X (6 teraflops) and PS4 Pro (4.2 teraflops) combined, it says. But while Stadia will be able to stream better-than-console-quality games, Google hasn’t confirmed what internet speeds users will require to make the most of its capabilities.

Stadia will launch alongside a proprietary controller that connects to Google’s servers through Wi-Fi to reduce latency. The controller features a button for capturing and sharing gameplay, plus a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone. Stadia will also support most current USB controllers.

Writing on Google’s blog, Harrison said “Stadia will lift restrictions on the games we create and play – and the communities who enjoy them”. Google says Stadia promises to make it simpler for novices to share content, and provide new ways for YouTubers to engage with audiences and monetise content.

“Developers will have access to nearly unlimited resources to create the games they’ve always dreamed of,” Harrison added. “It’s a powerful hardware stack combining server class GPU, CPU, memory and storage, and with the power of Google’s data centre infrastructure, Stadia can evolve as quickly as the imagination of game creators.”

Stadia will use a Linux-based operating system. Support for the Unreal and Unity game engines has been confirmed. While Doom Eternal and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey were the only major Stadia titles shown during the GDC reveal, Google also announced a new first-party studio dedicated to making exclusive games for the platform. Titled Stadia Games and Entertainment, it’s headed by industry veteran Jade Raymond.

Microsoft is also developing its own game streaming platform, called Project xCloud, with public trials set to begin in 2019.

Providing an update on its progress earlier this month, Kareem Choudhry, CVP of Gaming Cloud at Microsoft, wrote on Xbox Wire: “While our vision for the technology is complementary to the ways in which we use consoles today, Project xCloud will also open the world of Xbox to those who may not otherwise own traditional, dedicated gaming hardware.

“True console-quality gaming will become available on mobile devices, providing the two billion-plus gamers around the world a new gateway to previously console and PC exclusive content.”