The gaming industry is constantly evolving — it can often be difficult to predict where it might go next. That is, until a tech giant with a very limited history in video games swoops in out of the blue and presents a platform that will seemingly make all existing gaming technology obsolete. This is exactly what happened during Google’s recent conference in which they unveiled Stadia: The upcoming game streaming service that has everyone drooling. While there are plenty of details yet to be revealed, here’s everything you need to know about Stadia to get as stoked as the rest of the internet.
First and foremost; What exactly is Stadia? In the simplest terms possible, Stadia could be considered the Netflix of video games. It’s a platform that will give access to a library of games across several different devices without requiring a user to download or run said games on their machine. Essentially, Google’s monstrously powerful hardware will be doing all the heavy lifting in the background while a player’s machine will serve as not much more than a screen with a decent internet connection.
While streaming games without having to download them sounds pretty cool to begin with, Stadia’s benefits run much deeper than that. When you use Stadia, you’ll be playing a game from your screen that’s being completely rendered and processed through Google’s hardware. This means that the requirements for playing current generation games with high-tier graphics will be absurdly low. All that a player will need is an internet speed of 30MBPS on their desktop, laptop, phone, tablet or Chromecast.
As if that weren’t enough, Google has promised that Stadia will launch with support for 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. It’s important to stop and realize just how insane that is. In the current industry, there isn’t a console in existence that can handle that sort of quality. Even gaming PCs have to be stuffed with hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars worth of parts in order to achieve this benchmark.
If Stadia works as well as advertised, it could astronomically lower the barriers to entry of gaming in general. In the current industry, consoles are generally accepted as the most accessible means of standard quality gaming. Even so, consumers have to dish out $300-$500 for a console of their choosing. On top of that, a subscription fee is going to be required if they plan on playing games online. After all this, they still have to worry about the limited storage capacity of their system forcing them to pick and choose what games are important enough to keep on hand. Stadia puts an end to this. It will reportedly run at the same quality across ALL devices as long as the internet connection requirement is met.
Along with the announcement of the platform itself, Google showed off their new Stadia controller that will be launching alongside the platform. While Stadia will support a variety of controllers, Google’s own seems to boast some pretty cool features. It looks a bit like a hybrid between an XBOX and PS4 controller — nothing too revolutionary. However, it has a Google Assistant button which will allow use of the controller’s built-in microphone to interact with Stadia via voice.
Additionally, the controller has the ability to connect through Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth. Not only does this forego the less-than-stellar quality of Bluetooth connections, but it means that the controller will communicate directly with the Stadia platform rather than sending input to a device which, in turn, would have to send input to Stadia. Effectively, using the Stadia controller should reduce input latency while using the service by eliminating the middleman.
While Google’s Stadia conference was the official announcement for the platform, it wasn’t the first the community has heard of Google’s foray into streaming video games. Last year, Google invited users to experience an early iteration of Stadia known then as Project Stream. This beta program gave users access to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — a graphically intensive title that would typically demand high end processing hardware — through the company’s Chrome browser. After zero downloads or updates, users found themselves able to start up the game and play directly in Chrome on any computer with a solid internet connection.
The feedback was highly positive. Even in this beta stage, users reported having very few latency issues. This was a pretty big deal considering that latency is the biggest concern for most users when they think about streaming games and seemingly the biggest hurdle that other companies have come in contact with when trying out similar endeavors. Google, however, seems to have it all figured out.
Stadia is set to launch later this year with no specific date having been announced. It’s important to realize that there’s still a lot of information that hasn’t been revealed. For example, will users be buying individual games or paying a subscription fee? If the latter, will it be affordable? Will developers be quick to adopt the service or will the library at launch be scarce? Only time will tell. All of that said, Stadia has the potential to turn the industry completely on its head and has many gamers very excited for the future.