Google’s Stadia GDC 2019 Keynote Speech: Everything You Need to Know
Google’s Stadia: “One place for all the ways we play – it’s focused on gamers, inspired by developers, and amplified by Youtube creators”.
Finally, Google has announced their long-anticipated game streaming service, Stadia.
In yesterday’s GDC (Game Developers Conference) 2019 announcement, Google made a series of bold claims. Sundar Pichai, Google’s understated but charismatic CEO, took to the stage to warm up the crowd and set the stage. Pichai spoke on the importance of gaming in technical fields and in particular its influence on developers and on AI. He mentioned Deepmind’s AlphaStar, the AI Starcraft champion. He likened Waymo to gaming, calling its testing environments “game-like”.
Pichai then lauded the crowd, composed mainly of game developers, for pushing technology forward. Pichai also made the claim that high-fidelity game streaming was one of the initial goals when launching their Google Chrome web browser. Their ambition, Pichai claims, is simple: “Building a game platform for everyone”. Stadia, formerly known as Project Stream, is their answer to the barriers that exist to high-end gaming – namely, expensive hardware and non-instant access. The goal is for gaming to work like sharing a web link: instant, accessible and seamless.
Seemingly, this platform will be integrated into Youtube, making playing and watching games accessible in the same location.
Pichai then handed the reins to Phil Harrison, Stadia’s lead, who showed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey running on Stadia. A number of presenters followed, demonstrating a number of Stadia’s capabilities, innovations, and scale.
Google presented a number of extraordinary claims about Stadia to the audience at GDC 2019. These included:
- Stadia works on any device running a Chrome browser with an internet connection
- Works on Google’s powerful cloud and networking infrastructure
- Plans to support more browsers and platforms over time
- Real-time, lag-free gameplay without sacrificing any game quality
- Supported games can be streamed directly from Youtube, simply by clicking a button on a trailer, for instance – “in as quick as 5 seconds”.
- Stadia supports desktops, laptops, TVs (using Chromecast), tablets, and phones, and can switch seamlessly between those devices
- Works with existing peripherals (mice, keyboards, controllers)
- Stadia features a cloud development platform for game devs to work from, with the goal of being the most flexible dev environment in history
- No game traffic goes through the public internet, ensuring reliable connections – especially for multiplayer. Harrison claims that Stadia will be better than current solutions for handling multiplayer, easily accommodating thousands of players where today games can support hundreds.
- Stadia supports full cross-platform multiplayer and save transfers
- Splitscreen couch co-op will be supported
- Google has developed the Stadia Controller, which is optimised to work with Stadia by connecting through WiFi directly to the game in Google’s data center. It then identifies the screen or device you are using from there. Presumably, this will reduce input lag. It also features a Capture button linked to Youtube and a Google Assistant button to get in-game help.
- Stadia runs on custom-built gaming hardware in Google’s data centers,
- Supports up to 4k resolution, 60fps, HDR, and surround sound at launch, with plans to scale up to 8k resolution
- Stadia automatically generates a livestream to Google’s Youtube Live platform, at 4k up to 60fps.
- Game developers can develop to whatever specs they desire – individual games will not have upward limits of technical requirements. Stadia’s resources will scale up to match. “The data center is your platform”.
- Google has partnered with AMD to custom build their hardware (see image gallery for specs)
- Stadia’s GPU is over twice as powerful as the PS4 Pro, and nearly twice as powerful as the Xbox One X at launch – more powerful than both combined
- Stadia runs on Linux and the graphics API Vulkan. They are also partnering with Unreal Engine and Unity to ensure top performance for the two most popular game engines.
STADIA UNIQUE FEATURES:
- “Stream Connect” allows live views of teammates, and even for players to interact with one another’s games
- “Style Transfer ML” (Machine Learning) allows for rapid development of game art and design choices, making AI-led changes to in-game art
- “State Share” allows players to share playable game moments to others. It’s like an instant save transfer – or a playable screenshot – via a link.
- “Crowd Play” allows joining players who are streaming their content over Youtube by clicking a link, if enabled by the streamer
- Comprehensive parental controls for concerned mums and dads!
Bold, almost unbelievable claims – only time will tell if Stadia is able to live up to the standards they are setting. Google is also forming Stadia Games and Entertainment – their own games development studio, led by Jade Raymond, founder of Ubisoft Toronto. SG&E will focus on building experiences that leverage Stadia’s unique capabilities.
Stadia launches this year – 2019 – and will be available to players. For more information, visit Stadia.com. Initial launch locations will be the US, Canada, the UK and (most of) Europe. More details coming this summer!
So far, Google has not released information regarding pricing but has revealed a recommended internet speed of 25mb/s.
What do you think of Stadia? Is it possible it can live up to its own hype? Will you be using it to develop your own games?
Let us know in the comments below!