Google promised to reveal the future of gaming today, and that future turned out to be Stadia. This upcoming service is scheduled to roll out in the US, Canada, the UK, and much of Europe later this year. Stadia, much like Microsoft's xCloud, is meant to enable any device to play hardware-intensive games. In the case of Stadia, that means the ability to play any game, no matter how taxing, on any device with Google Chrome.
Last year, Google gave this concept a test run by letting fans play Assassin's Creed Odyssey via the Google Chrome Browser, and Stadia looks to expand this greatly. Google says you'll be able to hop between PCs, laptops, phones, and tablets effortlessly, picking up right where you left off.
So what kind of visuals can you expect when running a high-powered game through Stadia? According to Google Stadia can run games at 4K, 60 frames per second, with support for HDR and surround sound. On top of that, they're aiming for 8K support in the near future, as they expect 8K to become the standard eventually. You'll also be able to record and stream gameplay at 4K and 60 frames per second.
All of this is accomplished with Stadia's technology. A single Stadia unit gives developers a 10.7 teraflop GPU to work with, which Google boasts is more than PlayStation 4 Pro (4.2) and Xbox One X (6) combined. It will even be possible for developers to make games using multiple Stadia units as games become even more hardware intensive. Google also claims that their streaming tech is enabled by "infrastructure that no one else has," making it the best option for the next generation's big push into video game streaming services.
The whole service is centered around ideas like "building a game platform for everyone" and "one place for all the ways we play," and social media platforms and video services like Google will play heavily into that. For example, developers can include an option to jump straight from watching a YouTube video about a game to playing it. This can be done with a click of a button and in about 5 seconds. Developers can even share specific parts of games by coding a save state (including things like inventory and world position) into a link and putting that link on YouTube, Twitter, or other platforms. With one click, players can jump into a specific part of a game for a unique challenge or demo experience. Q-Games has revealed that they're working on a game that revolves around this new feature.
Streamers will also be able to use Stadia to engage with their audience. For example, a streamer playing a sports game can set up a queue for viewers to join as a teammate. Players can click a button to be placed in lined to play, and the streamer can set the rules for how long each viewer plays before being swapped out for the next person in line. It can essentially be used to create custom lobbies.
Stadia, as a platform, is embracing cross-platform play. As such, any developer who puts a game on Stadia will have the ability to enable play with other platforms, like Xbox. You'll even be able to import save files from other platforms. Stadia technology will also make it easier for multiplayer games to allow split-screen views. For example, in team-based games, you can pull up the views of everyone in your squad on a split-screen.
Google does not intend to launch a console at this time. Stadia is focused on the service, and the devices you already own are the consoles. You'll be able to use just about any controller or keyboard setup with Stadia, but Google is also releasing their own official controller. In addition to the standard buttons and sticks, the Stadia controller includes a Capture button to share on YouTube and a Google Assistant button so that you can look up info or walkthroughs without having to put down one device and pick up another.
A new, first-party studio has been set up to create Stadia-exclusive games. Longtime game producer and executive Jade Raymond will head up Stadia Games and Entertainment, overseeing first-party development and working with third-party teams to bring more games to Stadia. With support for engines like Unreal, Unity, and Havok, it should be easy for developers to bring their games to Stadia.
At this time we don't know how much the controller will cost, what type of pricing model Stadia will use, or what games we can expect at launch. We know that Ubisoft and id Software are among the early partners, and that Doom Eternal can run in 4K at 60 frames per second on the service. Hopefully, more big-name games follow soon.