After a short teaser was released last week, Google has finally announced its game streaming service, Stadia.
Like Microsoft‘s Project xCloud, Stadia will allow gamers to play high-end console and PC games on just about any device with a screen and an internet connection. Unlike a traditional gaming platform, game streaming will process the game on servers and broadcast the experience to you, rather than rendering it on a local device.
The service is expected to be compatible with most desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets, and phones. While there are still plenty of things we don’t know, like, for example, which games (bar Doom Eternal, which was announced during the keynote) the service will launch with, we do know that the hardware specs are pretty powerful. I’ll spare you most of the nerdy details, but what I will tell you is that Stadia clocks in at 10.7 teraflops of processing power.
For context, the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X have 4.2 and 6.0 teraflops of processing power respectively.
According to Google’s Phil Harrison, Stadia will launch this year in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe, but there’s no mention of Australia yet, and I reckon you can all guess why. That’s right, it’s likely because our internet is piss-weak.
Streaming games requires a pretty strong internet connection, more than what you’d need to run Netflix with no buffering interruptions because the amount of data needed is much greater in order to keep latency – or lag – at low levels. Having incredibly beefy processing power on the other end of the connection is great, but it means nothing if your internet can’t handle it.
What will set Stadia apart from game streaming competitors is its ability to broadcast directly and easily to YouTube. More than just screen sharing, gamers will also be able to share game states, allowing friends and fans to pick up a game at a precise spot by just clicking on a link.
YouTube will also have links directly to games on certain videos. For example, during the keynote, Harrison showed a trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which displayed a ‘Play Now’ link at the end, taking the user straight from the video and into the game. He claims that games can launch on Stadia in as little as five seconds.
The patented Google controller could also enhance the experience, connecting directly to Google’s servers via Wi-Fi, which should help with keeping latency low. That being said, any of your current peripherals will also work on Stadia, along with standard keyboard and mouse setups.
It’s also claimed that Stadia is capable of running games at 4K up to 60 frames per second, but I wouldn’t get too excited just yet, mainly due to the internet reasons I stated above. That’s not to say it’ll never happen, I’m just sceptical, but willing to be surprised. Like Microsoft, Google has a number of data centres in Australia to host gaming experiences locally.
The company is recommending at least a 15 Mbps connection to run Stadia, compared to Project xCloud’s 10 Mbps. The average internet connection speed in Australia is 30.53 Mbps as of June 2018.
You can have a look at some of the keynote highlights below.
We simply don’t know how any of this will run here until it’s actually tested, so all eyes will likely be on Microsoft, who is expected to run trials for xCloud this year, probably prior to Google. If it does work as intended, it’ll no doubt revolutionise the gaming industry.