Google has long been rumored to dive into the gaming industry, similar to what Microsoft did more than a decade ago with the original Xbox. It’s certainly not an unheard of idea for a tech giant to try gaining a foothold in the industry, though what Microsoft did was build a console and follow the model already established in the industry.
Google’s foray into video games, however, was thought to be a streaming service, and on Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, we finally got a look at what Alphabet has planned for gamers. The service, called Stadia, will indeed be a streaming video game platform, eschewing consoles for Internet-delivered gaming.
“Stadia offers instant access to play,” said Phil Harrison a former executive at Sony and Microsoft who joined Google to work on Stadia. During Tuesday’s presentation, Google said you won’t have to download or install games, instead playing by streaming on devices such as laptops, PCs, TVs, tablets and even phones.
A video previewing the platform highlighted social gaming, with the name representing how the places we watch games have brought us together over the years.
YouTube seems to be a big component of this, too.
A controller mockup alleging to be what the service will use was actually not too far from what Google showed off on Tuesday.
Google says cross-platform play will be available at launch, and it showed off some games like Doom: Eternal. There are a lot of questions many gamers will have about Stadia, especially about a reliance on streaming services in a place where internet speeds aren’t particularly fast as games get larger and more detailed. Online gaming has forever been tied to lag, and not having a downloaded source for games may make that significantly worse or, at the very least, more complicated.
Then there’s the idea that you may never truly own your games on Stadia, something people worry about with streaming music and movies and television. Those answers and the repercussions of that will come in time, it seems, but right now it’s clear that Google is very serious about gaming, and it will be interesting to try playing major releases on the Chromecast in your living room TV.