Google is entering the gaming market.
The tech giant has revealed the Stadia, a new video game streaming service that it hopes will rival entrenched console designers Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. Though Google is trying to unseat those companies, it is not planning to do so through the sale of a new physical platform.
Stadia will look to cut consoles out of the equation entirely by allowing gamers to stream titles directly to their phone, PC, or television. Gamers will be able to play through a variety of devices that interface with Google accounts without worrying about the technical specifications of their hardware.
This will be accomplished in a number of different ways depending on the hardware involved. According to Google VP Phil Harrison in an interview with EuroGamer, the Stadia controller serves as a client for the games that can be freely switched from phones to PCs to Chromecast-enabled televisions. Games can also be played directly through Chrome, giving players using PCs the chance to use other compatible USB controllers.
Streaming video games has been attempted in the past with mixed results. Gaming giants including Electronic Arts and Nvidia have attempted to create similar services with both file and video streaming, but most attempts have struggled to make it to market. The Playstation Now service allows subscribers to play a variety of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 titles either on console or PC for a monthly fee, and is likely the most successful service of this kind to date.
Few streaming services have been able to offer high quality video to players, but Google says the Stadia will be capable of running with 4K resolution at 60 frames per second in surround sound over just a 25 Mbps internet connection.
In addition to streaming the games, the Stadia controller will have a number of other built-in features.
According to Google, the Stadia will have a button for clipping and posting footage onto YouTube. The function is similar to the share button on the Playstation 4 controller, though it is unclear if it will have connectivity to any other social media services such as Twitch or Twitter. It will also include a button that links to a Google Assistant focused on gaming.
Demonstrations of the Stadia used Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey per CNN, with IGN stating that id Software was also throwing its support behind the platform with Doom Eternal. In addition to working with third-party publishers, longtime Ubisoft producer Jade Raymond is reportedly at the helm of a first-party game development studio at Google that will provide exclusive titles for the Stadia.
Google did not give an estimated price point or release date for the Stadia, but it is projected to launch in 2019.