The gaming industry is a fast-moving and progressive one, where developments occur apace and the next big thing is always just around the corner. Presently, Google Stadia is getting gamers and experts rather excited. Known in development as Project Stream, Google’s upcoming cloud gaming service is set to launch in November of this year. This follows a closed beta in October 2018, where Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was piloted.
Stadia will allow users to play high-end games without requiring any additional hardware. Games will be powered by Google’s vast network of data centers; players only need an internet connection and Google Chrome. According to Google, users can open a Chrome tab and be playing a 4K game at 60 fps in just five seconds. Inputs via a mouse, trackpad or Google Stadia Gamepad (more on this later) are sent over to Google’s servers. They’re then processed in-game, and the results are streamed back almost instantly.
Google claims the cloud computing power of Google Stadia will be equivalent to a console running at 10.7 GPU teraflops. That’s more power than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined, and it’s what gives this new service the capability of running 4K games at 60 fps. To use Google Stadia, an internet connection must also meet some minimum specifications. Streaming rate needs to be more than 15Mbps (35Mbps to get the top graphics), while latency and data loss has to be less than 40ms and 5% respectively.
A ‘Founder’s Package’ will be available to Google Stadia’s first takers in November. Costing $129.99, this includes a limited-edition Gamepad, a 4K-supporting Chromecast Ultra, and a three-month Buddy Pass for a friend. That’s alongside a three-month Stadia Pro subscription, which is the main subscription model. Subscribers to Stadia Pro will pay $8.99 per month, for which they’ll receive unlimited access to a changing roster of games. It also means they can buy titles ‘a la carte’ in the future, at a discount. From 2020, Stadia Base will be introduced for those players who only want to buy individual titles without paying a subscription.
Introducing the Google Stadia Gamepad
Gamers won’t need any additional hardware to use Google Stadia, but Google has developed a Gamepad specifically for this service. The Gamepad connects directly to Google’s cloud to help stave off latency. It also introduces a couple of other notable features, including a dedicated Google Assistant button, which enables players to access tips and in-game features for any title they’re playing. The Crowd Play feature, meanwhile, allows users to play games with their favorite streamers.
What games will be available?
A number of titles have already been confirmed for Google Stadia, including games from the following major franchises:
- Assassin’s Creed
- Final Fantasy
- Football Manager
- Mortal Kombat
- Tomb Raider
Google has already launched Stadia Games and Entertainment – an arm of their business dedicated to producing Stadia-specific titles. However, games with a major online presence may be less compatible with this new service. This includes titles like Fortnite, which rely on instant actions by many online players; the extra latency caused by streaming might create difficulties.
On the bright side, Stadia is better placed to overcome this issue than other similar platforms. Google’s vast network of data centers and better fiber optic cabling infrastructure will help reduce issues of latency and lag, not to mention the direct link between the Stadia Gamepad and Google’s cloud resources. It might just represent the future of gaming as we know it.