Google Stadia is the biggest play so far the increasingly competitive contest to become ‘The Netflix of Games’. Following in the footsteps of the Microsoft Game Pass, Google Stadia is a streaming service for games that claims it will be able to stream games to any screen you own in 60fps at 4k resolutions with HDR and surround sound, and on top of that – as long as your internet is good enough – you can stream your experience to YouTube as well. All this on the cloud, so it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to stream from a potato, as long as that potato has a screen.
That’s a hell of a pitch. Reports have already come in of people being able to play Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – Google’s chosen test game for the project – on machines that could never handle it natively. In fact, in their on-stage demo at GDC, it was played on ‘the least powerful PC we could find’, a Google Pixel Slate and a smart TV with a Chromecast Ultra HDMI streamer. They were also insistent that no consoles were needed to stream games.
One of the most amazing promises comes from their ambitious plans for multiplayer. With matches taking place purely off Google’s tech, matches won’t be restricted by other players’ unpredictable internet connections, your data won’t be vulnerable because it won’t be connected to public internet and most importantly, games running off Google Stadia can’t be hacked by cheaters. And because of the cloud tech, the sky is the limit for multiplayer games. As general manager for Google Phil Harrison put it, battle royale games could go from 100 players to 1000. They’re even saying this tech could mean the resurgence of split-screen gaming in the Triple-A space.
So confident are Google on this promise that trailers for prospective games will have a ‘Play Now’ button on YouTube trailers for a variety of titles, completely eliminating the need to wait for what is often tens of GBs of data to download for increasingly demanding games. It also has streaming capabilities that can help drop you in your favourite streamer’s lobby with something they call ‘Crowd Play’.
Will Google be able to pull this off? Will it really change games for everyone? Especially as Fibre Optic broadband isn’t as ubiquitous as tech companies would like them to be?