Google revealed the company's plans for a new gaming platform at GDC 2019 today, announcing the existence of Stadia. The platform was announced by Phil Harrison, and will be designed to bring together communities of gamers, developers, and streamers in a way that Google states has not been done before.
Stadia was born out of Project Stream, as revealed during the presentation. Publisher and developer Ubisoft was a major presence during the presentation as well, as Yves Guillemot was shouted out for helping Google test its technology when the company allowed players to test streaming Assassin's Creed Odyssey in 2018. As it turns out, Project Stream was actually the first iteration of Stadia, making Assassin's Creed Odyssey the first game Google has ever hosted on this platform.
Stadia is technology we've never seen before. According to Harrison, players will be able to watch a trailer for a game on YouTube and then click a new "Play Now" button that will allow gamers to begin playing the game within five seconds of enabling the function. A major element of the presentation for Stadia is "instant access." Essentially, Stadia will be the Netflix for games that was rumored to exist ever since Project Stream was debuted by Google, and will have a platform power that is double the power of both the Xbox One and PS4 combined.
Stadia will also support playing games across desktops, laptops, TV, tablets, and phones. Stadia's data centre is the "console" of this technology, and will thus allow players to access games on any technology that can stream. According to the presentation, as long as a player is running Chrome, they will be able to stream the game directly from Google's data centre. Google also showcased the ability to swap between devices mid-stream, with no loss in quality. There are also no hardware restrictions: as long as a device can stream, Google's Stadia data centre will seamlessly work on high settings.
Google will also release a new controller for Stadia that will improve the service's performance. As it turns out, those Google controller mockups weren't terribly accurate, and what we ended up with was a lot closer to an Xbox and PlayStation 4 controllers.
Stadia will certainly shake up the video game industry. Google is making a clear statement of intent: there might not be a need for consoles in the near future, and it will be interesting to see how industry giants like Sony and Microsoft respond to the news. Microsoft has already hinted it has plans for streaming games to other platforms as well, and that could be the direction the entire industry is heading now that Stadia is a real thing.