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During the past few years, the gaming industry has seen multiple improvements and is expanding at a very high pace, and recently, a tech giant has announced its entry into the same. At the 2019 Game Developers Conference, Google unveiled the Google Stadia, their complete cloud-based gaming solution.
So, what is cloud gaming and what is Google’s take on it?
Cloud gaming in its essence provides users with lower-end hardware to play games which they aren’t able to. It utilizes the internet to allow users to use the power of a server dedicated to playing high-end games at the resolution and framerates of the user’s choice. It has only been until recent years that this platform has taken up steam since the older generations of the internet weren’t as fast to maintain low latency and enjoyable performance. Moreover, many of the existing platforms weren’t that financially sound to set up multiple servers or edge nodes in order to further help with the latency problems while gaming.
What Google has done is, that they have extended its already excellent server network to incorporate Stadia into it. They announced at the conference that at the time of the launch of Stadia, Google will already have 7,500 edge nodes available. On top of that, Google was also able to partner with AMD to create a dedicated GPU that has more power than the top two consoles of this generation, the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X can offer, combined. Additionally, due to the scale at which Google operates, the service will be able to provide an immersive experience running at true 4k resolution at 60fps.
But wait, there is more.
Google’s portfolio of services has also allowed an immense form of integration of this platform, allowing users to access whichever game they want from any of these integrated platforms. One of the coolest looking features that they showed off at the conference was how a person watching the latest trailer of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will get a play now button at the end and can get into the actual game in about five seconds. Additionally, they also announced state share, which will allow users to share their exact state in a game to different users, to further enhance the playability and provide gamers with infinitely new experiences.
Google has also geared these services towards online game streamers, whose number has significantly increased in recent years. Stadia will allow them not only to play the game but at the same time provide them with the ability to create a separate stream of the same on YouTube running again at a maximum resolution of 4k at 60fps, without any significant loss to the performance of the game. Moreover, they also allow the viewers of the said stream to participate with the streamers of their choice with the click of a button.
Along with all the software magic, Google will be providing, they also said that Stadia won’t require any physical box or console to play on, and can be used with any available controller on the market. However, Google did announce that they will be launching a new controller to further improve the experience of the users. The Stadia controller mostly features the button set of the standard controller of this generation and adds a couple of buttons to it. One of the buttons allows users to share the current screen content directly to the social media platform of their choice, and the other is a Google Assistant button, allowing users to gather info, tips, and walkthroughs specifically from the part that they are at. The controller also connects directly to the server the user is playing on through Wi-Fi, and not to the actual device the game is being played on, allowing the controller to directly identify which device the user is playing on and connect itself to it seamlessly.
But will Google be able to make a mark in the gaming industry?
Google has said that the Stadia service and controller will be available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and most of Europe, sometime this year, but, they haven’t shared any details on the pricing for both. Furthermore, we are at a point where Microsoft has been rumored to unveil their cloud gaming platform as soon as in the next E3 in June. Sony too has its streaming service up and running in some countries, however, the service has limited the game catalog to not allow the full PS4 library and access to newer releases. With a move like this from Google, Sony and Microsoft are projected to use their current assets in play and will pose as strong competition to the Stadia in the coming years.