Today, during Google's Keynote at the Game Developers Conference 2019, Google announced the name of the gaming-related announcement it's been hyping for the past few weeks. The "future of gaming" is here, and it's called Stadia.
Its logo is a Google-hued squiggle; simple and refined. The announcement of the name came at the end of a commercial showing people all over the world playing video games, watching sports, and so on. "This new era of gaming needs a new place to gather," the voiceover of the commercial said.
Before the commercial, Google CEO Sundar Pichai talked at length about how Google wants to build a game platform that's truly for everyone. "Games don't have instant access," he told the GDC 2019 crowd. He went on to talk about how links gives instant access to websites across the internet, but games don't come as easy with barriers for high end games. Google's streaming platform Stadia will be vowing to deliver that promise.
Google revealed a new video game controller with WiFi compatibility to work with its new Stadia streaming platform. A concept for the controller was leaked early last week, but the final product looks different from that concept. The final Stadia controller is smoother and includes buttons for screen capture and Google Assistant. Google Assistant gives you tips about the game you're currently playing, while the YouTube button will allow you to share your Stadia gameplay on YouTube directly.
"With Stadia, the data center is your platform," said former Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison, who is the general manager of Google's gaming platform. Viewers of official gaming streams on YouTube can click the "Play on Stadia" button to instantly start playing a game. This is on Chrome browsers, Chromebooks, Android phones like the Pixel 3, and the Chromecast Ultra HDMI streamer.
Project Stream delivered Assassin's Creed Odyssey at 1080p, 60fps, but Google is aiming Stadia's launch for 4K resolution and 60fps, with HDR and surround sound. Google is also planning for the future, with potential 8K resolution and 120+ fps streams.
In terms of games, the first titles supported include Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Doom Eternal. Stadia will support full cross-platform play, and Harrison said developers have the option to bring game data and player progression over.
Google is also aiming to bring back couch co-op with Stream Connect, which can show multiple players' views on a single screen. It will allow for unique views, with a demo shown onstage having one third-person humanoid, another third-person flying viewpoint, and a more omniscient commander view, where that player can drop beacons for the others.
YouTube Gaming head Ryan Wyatt joined the keynote to talk briefly about Crowd Play. The feature allows viewers to queue up to immediately join streamers in their games. So if your favorite streamer is playing a sports game or multiplayer title, you can join them in a group directly, instead of booting up the game and hoping you get matched up with them. Google neglected to mention how a creator could choose not to play with certain viewers, which could open the door for some unwanted connections.
On the developer side, Stadia's platform will support Unreal Engine and Unity. Other partners supported by Stadia include Havok, Simplygon, Improbable, Audiokinetic, CryEngine, Vulkan, and more. Google also showed off a technology called Style Transfer, a machine learning tool which can map images onto simple polygons. Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert took to the stage to show off State Share, which saves world states, player position, or inventories. These save states can be shared with other Stadia players via links, allowing you to challenge others to beat your times or repeat your feats.
Google is creating other teams to help build out the Stadia experience. Stadia Games and Entertainment is Google's own first-party studio, led by former Ubisoft producer and EA Motive studio head Jade Raymond, aimed at making games for the platform. The studio will also help other developers get the most out of the Stadia platform.
Stadia is launching sometime in 2019, and Google will be offering further information this summer. For more on Google's Stadia, stay tuned to our everything we know guide.