We're not far off from the launch of Stadia's Founders Edition this November, and with it we'll see how the first iteration of Google's video game streaming platform integrates with the various pillars of gaming culture. Content creators who stream themselves playing video games may be happy to hear that Google is looking into leveraging Stadia's tech to send audiences better quality game footage alongside a streamer's camera and audio feeds than a streamer can muster (provided they're streaming on YouTube, thus keeping everything in Google's sandbox).
In an interview with Stadiacast, Stadia VP and Head of Product John Justice details a number of features the company hopes to incorporate in the Stadia platform, including this proposed hybrid livestream solution. Instead of streaming all the elements out themselves, a streamer would send just their camera and audio feed out to YouTube while the data centers handle the gameplay feed:
"What we're looking at is, how do we go take the server-side version of the video that never has to go down the internet [to the streamer] and back, and instead take that and then let you use that as the basis of your stream? Because we can keep that thing at full quality. We can even spend a little bit more time compressing it, put some extra polish on it because it doesn't have to be quite as fast[...] that way, it can be a lot higher quality than anything you can do today in real time."
With YouTube integration pegged as a key selling point for Stadia, providing support for more than just a barebones game footage livestream with text chat on the side could be a major driver for Stadia adoption while also helping YouTube further distinguish itself from Twitch and Mixer. Justice also touches on how Google is exploring cross-platform progression, some form of mod support, and free trials for games in the Stadiacast interview.
When Google first announced Stadia back at Game Developers Conference 2019, Stadia's head of engineering Majd Bakar explained that Stadia players will have the option of hosting a simultaneous stream of the same gameplay feed sent from Stadia's servers to viewers on YouTube. While that could be quite useful for capturing raw game footage from Stadia, no mention was made regarding the option of combining other video or audio elements with the feed of the game footage. Justice says that the goal isn't to "try to recreate every single part of OBS and everything else inside Stadia" for technically savvy streamers, but to plug into those processes smoothly while making a simpler form of livestreaming more accessible to all.
Google has previously claimed that anyone who can stream YouTube at 4K in their home should be in "pretty good shape" for Stadia, but the prospect of pulling that much data down and sending a livestream back out to an audience seems like a big ask for average internet connections. A solution that would put some of that load on Google's servers whilst increasing the quality of the game footage that audiences see could be attractive to content creators, provided that they're happy with the audience they're able to bring in through livestreaming on YouTube as opposed to another platform.