Stadia, as Google is calling it, is the name of the new cloud gaming platform announced today.

Stadia claims to offer a high-end premium gaming experience on any device by leveraging cloud-based computing where the game you want to play is always live in the cloud, ready to play exactly where you left off at any time. Meaning you can begin playing a game at your computer in Google Chrome, continue in the bathroom on your phone, and pick up again at the couch on the TV, instantly.

I actually got the chance to beta test Stadia last October when Google had an open beta for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Although, the name of the service was still a secret at the time. I was extremely impressed by the lack of any perceived input lag. I am on a gigabyte fiber connection so I am in the minority of best case seniors but even then I was surprised to see the level of synchronization and quality of the video stream. I would love to see how this may perform for FPS shooters but from my experience, it seems it may be possible the technology is ready.

Cloud-Based Gaming

What you essentially see is a real-time HD stream of the game, with no input lag for controls. Think Twitch.TV, if you could control the game, and there was zero lag and it’s in beautiful 60fps 4K HDR, with 8K coming in the future. That is an intense proposition.

Cloud Gaming Infrastructure

Of course, this is not the first time we have seen a company attempting to offer cloud-based gaming. Some years ago we saw the rise and fall of the cloud-gaming service “OnLive“.

OnLive

OnLive, perhaps too ahead of its time closed its doors back in 2015 after failing to gain enough traction. This is no doubt a very expensive business and back in 2015 the technology was not quite ready to deal with what gamers expect from a gaming experience without compromise.

Google, now in 2019 is ready to make use of their goliath infrastructure and numerous databases around the globe to serve real-time 4K gaming without the gaming console.

Googles Cloud Network

Custom Vulkan Cloud GPUs

Google actually teamed up with AMD to create a custom Vulkan based GPU for cloud game rendering. The demonstration they showed using multiple GPUs to compute both better graphics but also talked about how this could be used to create huge single state worlds, like a battle royal game with hundreds of players.

Something that was just glossed over briefly that might be a huge win for this service, no hacking. It will be nearly impossible to hack any cloud-based games as you, the client will have no access to even the client side code that would allow for hacks such as “walling” or anything that may manipulate the game world. Aim hacking may potentially still be possible to some effect but this should also be massively reduced. It may be possible that competitive games gravitate towards a service that effectively eliminates hackers. It will be interesting to see how the pro-gaming community reacts to this.

Live Stream and Capture

We knew this was coming, of course, the further competition to Twitch.TV and therefore Amazon.

You can at any point begin live streaming your game on YouTube and share your link, as expected. However, Stadia wants to go a little further. The brought out YouTube’s famed “MattPatt” to explain to us Crowd Play.

Crowd Play

Crowd play will allow viewers to queue up and join creator’s games. A creator could opt to lobby up with their viewers natively through Stadia.  The demo showed NBA 2K where viewers could queue to team up, and sit in a virtual waiting room while waiting to join. This opens new doors of audience engagement that has simply never existed before.

Crowd Play
Crowd Play on #Stadia

State Share

This was very interesting. Google promises the ability to link directly to a moment in time in a game. Meaning, you can capture the current state of the game, freeze it, and send it to a friend so they can pick up right there in the same place. This seems to be limited to the new game creation tools specifically for Stadia, so I wouldn’t expect to see this in AAA titles just yet.

State Share
State Share on #Stadia

Google Assistant

How could Google Assistant not make an appearance? Google assistant promises to be able to pull up helpful YouTube videos that can help you with difficult levels or challenges by automatically scrubbing to the right timestamp in the video of another player who has published a guide or walkthrough that can assist you in your current predicament.

The store

How Google will market their games is as amazing as it is creepy. Google is going to make a lot of money off of this, a lot. Every link you create or share of your gaming content acts as a beacon to draw that viewer to pick up that game by buying on the Play Store.  Embedded links in Discord, or on Facebook, Twitter, you name it, will offer buy buttons to turn content creators into sales funnels.

Stadia Store
Stadia Store

No mention was made of profit sharing for content creators who will be promoting this service. It would be troubling to think you may not be able to earn commissions on your content for driving game sales. Many streamers today partner directly with studios, or game stores to provide affiliate sales links, meaning the streamer promotes the game and gets paid when viewers decide to adopt the game. A very fair business strategy. Let us hope YouTube is not eliminating the streamer from the sales funnel.

We know streamers on YouTube will always have paid subscriptions and donations but affiliate marketing is the real lifeblood of many if not most content creators. Cutting them out of the deal could spell disaster for the professional streaming industry outside of pro competition.

For now, we will have to wait and see how this progresses.

What’s next?

You can join the Google Stadia Newsletter on their website. There isn’t much written about the service from Google yet other than what was announced via the live GDC event.

We don’t know when exactly we’ll be able to get playing, Stadia is set to launch later this year.

We’ll be waiting and watching til then!