At this year’s Gaming Developers Conference (GDC) held in San Francisco Google stole the show with a presentation of its Stadia cloud gaming service and promises that gaming will never be the same again.
Stadia, which will be launched later this year needs no console but instead will allow players to transform any screen into a gaming platform. At present the tradition is to buy a console, whether Xbox or Play Station and then load up games on them and a new console can cost you upwards of £300.
Stadia means this will no longer be the case. What’s more all of the computing power is kept on the server-side, enabling Google to offer much more processing power than current consoles can deliver.
With Stadia all you will need is a compatible controller and a device capable of running Chrome. It will work across mobiles, tablets, laptops, the TV and even Chromecast. In fact, any screen can be used and anywhere.
Other benefits of Stadia trumpeted by Google at the GDC includes a return to the local multiplayer of yore. Remember those Mario Kart and Street Fighter games where with a split screen you pitted your wits and finger dexterity against friends.
This has been lost in recent years, mainly because to run split screen on a console takes enormous power, as it effectively has to render the same screen multiple times. Stadia overcomes this through its Stream Connect system, which will allow a user to place several different streams into the same screen.
Another benefit is that Stadia needs no downloading of updates, which can be the bane of console owners. Any update will be done automatically in the cloud so there will be no sitting around waiting to get on the machine and kill those pesky bad guys.
Games today are huge and often complex. Last year’s blockbuster Red Dead Redemption 2 came in at around a staggering 100GB. One of the consequences of this is gamers now regularly resort to help on the web to solve those difficult moments. Well Stadia will allow you to hop into guides specific to the game and the section you’re currently stuck on directly from the game you’re playing.
What’s more if you are watching a game trailer say on YouTube, you’ll have the option at the end of the trailer to jump right into the game on Stadia. Gamers, who are streaming on YouTube will even be able to invite those watching to join the game.
Google is also moving into games themselves. It has set-up Stadia Games and Entertainment as its first internal first-party studio to develop its own titles. Recruiting Jade Redmond, known for the Assassin’s Creed franchise and Phil Harrison, famous for the launch of the original PlayStation in 1994.
As to how Google will make money is unclear at the moment, but many believe they will launch a subscription service that would grant access to all available games or it may be a more traditional pay-per-game model.
In whatever form this comes to the public it could well live up to Google’s GDC hype and be eventually seen as a genuine revolution in the whole gaming experience.