Fellow gamers, prepare yourselves. Get a drink, settle down comfortably and let me take you through this because this update is huge.
At the 2019 Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Monday, Google unveiled their latest project: Google Stadia.
And if it is really everything it’s cracked up to be, then the gaming world will be revolutionised.
But before we dive in, here’s a trailer to get your feet wet:
Intrigued? Let us begin:
1. First things first: what is Google Stadia?
As mentioned, Google Stadia is a platform. A cloud gaming platform. That means it’s not a game, or a console, but a service which grants you unparalleled access to games, as well as the processing power needed to play them.
How, you ask? Well, for that you need to better understand how the cloud works.
2. What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing delivers you services like storage, networks or software by connecting a powerful, remote computer with all the hardware, software and other supporting infrastructure to the Internet.
Users can then simply access this computer and all its capabilities with their lower grade devices through the Internet, sometimes for a subscription fee.
In this case, users of Stadia will have a library of games they can stream straight from the service’s Stadia.com homepage, as well as access to the power of a custom AMD 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB RAM, up to 484GB/s transfer speed, and a GPU that has 10.7 teraflops of power.
That’s a lot of jargon that TechRadar sums up to be more than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined.
Which basically means…
3. You get a uniformed gaming experience across all devices
If you’re connected to the internet with a fast and stable connection that is.
Specifically, you can stream the games on Stadia at 60 fps, with HDR and 4K resolution, which will feel like you’re playing on a great PC, instead of the smartphone/ laptop/ tablet or whatever other Wi-Fi connected creature you’re pounding on.
As someone who plays battle royale games on a shitty laptop that’s meant to handle school work and nothing else, this really has me pumped.
4. Stadia controller
This whole service is intangible except for one piece of hardware: the Stadia controller.
As you can see, it has the typical gamepad, 2 analog joysticks, four face buttons, and shoulder buttons.
Somewhat new to this, Google’s first attempt at designing a controller is commented by many to be a combination of the Xbox One gamepad with Sony’s DualShock 4.
Still, the controller isn’t bad by most standards. It’s connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth, which should help with lags and latency.
Which is absolutely wonderful because there’s nothing more infuriating or fatal than your character responding only precious seconds after you push those buttons.
For some more cool details, check out this review.
That said, this piece of hardware is completely optional; you can play games from Stadia on anything including your own controllers, keyboards, mice etc.
5. But it does have some unique features
Namely, a Google Assistant button for when you need help in the games themselves. Can you imagine being trapped in a rut and accessing walkthroughs and guides immediately with a touch of a button?
And a capture button for you to save and stream your experience live on Youtube Gaming.
The YouTube Gaming scene is already expanding at an impressive rate because of all the YouTube gaming channels that blew up on the site, but, as you can imagine, this will probably add whole truckloads of live streamers.
6. Speaking of YouTube…
Stadia integrates with YouTube in a way that allows certain features such as Crowd Play, which allows viewers to join the YouTuber they are watching in the very same game.
This is a form of State Sharing, a unique feature of Stadia. Instead of video clip sharing which allows you to watch the same game, this features shares a playable moment from a game.
You can think of it as the difference between sharing a Google Document and sharing a Microsoft Word document; one allows groups of people to work on the same document in real time, the other is a static product.
7. Games available
What’s the use of a Gaming service with no games?
Google doesn’t make the games so it partners up with companies who do.
So far we have Doom Eternal from id Software and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey from Ubisoft. Q-Games is also working on a game for Stadia, but yes that’s about it.
The presentation at GDC showed off the impressive game engines and tools, but not a screen full of announced partnerships. That’s like displaying a beautiful, well-furnished library… with no books.
Google won’t be able to break into the gaming industry if they don’t pull major developers on board since people won’t want to make the switch from other consoles.
But okay, we can afford to give Google the benefit of the doubt for now, because it’s not exactly out yet, is it?
8. When? And where?
Then again, they only have a little more than 8 months left to patch this up since Stadia is set to release in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe in 2019.
Looks like us Singaporeans will have to wait some more.
9. Too Good to be True?
So far the only iffy point seems to be the selection of games available, but the technology is solid and promises an almost mythical gaming experience.
Or does it?
Here’s a minor drawback: you don’t own the games you love. There’s a special feeling that comes with buying a physical disc or downloading a game to your PC. Also, the game files are yours to mess with, including putting in your own bugfixes and mods.
I would assume that fourth-wall breaking games like DDLC that mess with these game files won’t work either since the actual files are on the remote PC.
10. The bigger problem: it all depends on your Internet connection
It’s a criteria we mentioned before and it was supposed to be a good thing, but think about it again. You know the pain you go through when your YouTube videos take forever to load?
That pain will transform into a fatality, all because of your sucky Wi-Fi. So in that aspect, you actually have less control over your gaming experience.
Also, this system will never beat those with the best gaming PCs which have better resolutions, and peripherals like monitors and mice that have their responsiveness optimised.
Steps were taken to decrease the lag and latency in Stadia but it isn’t enough for many competitive games.
All in all, though, this platform remains an excellent option for casual gamers that operate on less than optimal devices.
Can you imagine playing Assassin’s Creed on your phone?
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