During a keynote at GDC today, Google unveiled more details of its Project Stream including its name: Stadia.
Stadia is set to be Google’s attempt at a cloud streaming service that’ll allow players instant access to games from whatever platform they choose. During the event, we saw a demo where the player began playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on a laptop via a Chrome browser, to them move onto mobile, a low-end PC, a tablet, and then finally a TV via Chromecast, all while continuing their game in the exact state they left it on the other device.
It’s definitely impressive, but to add more “wow” to their keynote, they revealed the Stadia Controller, a controller that will connect directly to players’ Stadia game sessions, not via Bluetooth or USB cable, but via WiFi, so the game itself is getting instant input, offering the highest possible performance and experience for players.
Much like the leaks earlier this month, the Stadia Controller will come with two unique buttons, the first a simple capture button that’ll allow players to share their gameplay direct to YouTube. The second is Google Assistant which will allow players to harness the power of Google’s AI for a number of features.
One example is that during play, if players are struggling with a particular puzzle, they can ask Google Assistant for help, and it’ll instantly bring up a gameplay video at the correct spot in order to provide a solution. Developers can also use this button to create in-game features too.
As for power, Stadia is set to harness the same network that Google itself uses to deliver instant search results, featuring over 7500 Edge Node locations around the world to deliver the optimal experience at data centers closest to the player. Google claim that this is infrastructure that no one else has right now.
During the keynote the company revealed some details on the quality of the streams. In 2019 when they held the first Project Stream test, it was running at 1080p, 60fps, with stereo audio. At launch, however, Stadia will feature true 4K at 60fps with HDR and surround sound. One of the other advantages of Stadia, according to Google, is its ability to scale, and in future, Stadia will be capable of supporting 8K at 120fps.
As for power, Google has revealed that Stadia is built on a custom GPU with 10 teraflops of power, and to put that in perspective, the Xbox One X offers 6.0 teraflops of power, and the PS4 Pro offers only 4.2. Stadia is almost twice as powerful as an Xbox One X.
Of course, we’re now all wondering what we’ll be able to play other than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and right now the game roster is pretty thin. Google did show off a number of game engines that support the platform, including Unreal Engine and Unity, as well as Havok, CryEngine, and a number of other names. But for games, there was one announcement.
Marty Stratton from id Software took to the stage to admit his skepticism of the platform, that was until Google proved that you could run DOOM with little to no latency. So, with that new-found faith in the platform Stratton announced that DOOM Eternal will be on Stadia running at 4K HDR at 60fps. The full version of DOOM Eternal is running on Stadia right now for those attending GDC.
Google also revealed some of the game’s multiplayer features adding that Stadia will have full cross-platform play for all players and that game saves can be transferred as well. In addition, developers will be able to once again offer split-screen multiplayer by individually streaming games on the same screen thanks to Stream Connect.
Another feature coming to Stadia is something called Style Transfer ML, a development tool that’s intended to help developers perfect the art style of their games using machine learning. During the keynote we saw a demo which saw a game being painted with different artworks such as A Stary Night and PAC-Man.
Another tool coming to both developers and players is something called State Share. This allows players to instantly share a game’s state so other players can experience this same moment in-game. One example described players in a horror game being left with only one med-pack and a zombie breathing down their neck. Imagine being able to share this state and challenge players to overcome the same challenge.
This tool is so interesting, Dylan Cuthbert from Q-Games took to the stage to talk about this feature and announce that the studio is currently working on a game based solely on this feature, Q-Games’ biggest game yet, and plans to unveil more details really soon.
Stadia is set to also be a fantastic tool for content creators as a feature called Crowd Play will allow fans of creators to join them in-game right from the game stream on YouTube. This acts similar to a queue or lobby. This also won’t be the only feature, as players will be able to watch YouTube videos of certain games and instantly be able to dive into a copy of that game without installation, patches, or downloads.
Google wrapped up the keynote by announcing that over 100 studios have Stadia hardware and are hard at work on games. They also unveiled Stadia Games and Entertainment, Google’s first-party game studio headed by none other than Jade Raymond, who recently jumped aboard Google as VP.
Raymond announced that the studio will be working with both first party and external studios to develop games for Stadia. Developers interested in getting started can head on over to Google’s Stadia developer website to find out more.
As for players, Google revealed that Stadia will be launching in 2019 in the US, Canada, UK, and parts of Europe. Unfortunately, we don’t have pricing for the service, or whether players can simply just purchase games on the Stadia platform. What we do know is that Google will have more news in the Summer – presumably E3 2019.
What are your thoughts on Stadia? Is it a little too good to be true, or are you pumped to play games from anywhere on any platform? Let us know in the comments below.