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By Matt Kim 1
We may be getting a glimpse of the future of gaming right now. Journalists are starting to get their hands on Google's Project Stream, and impressions have been pretty positive, to say the least.
Polygon, The Verge, and Kotaku all posted their thoughts on Project Stream today, which is being made accessible to a select few invitees. Google's new initiative allows you to stream through a Chrome extension, and is currently only compatible Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Thus far, Kotaku calls the new initiative "impressive," while the Verge goes further and refers to it as a "working preview of the future of game streaming." Dang. Here's a quick roundup:
Project Stream still has more work to do, especially with handling screen resolutions. But it is fluid, has cloud saves, and is easy to get running. Furthermore, both internet connections (Wi-Fi and Ethernet) didn’t have any issues with keeping the game running and playable; they just couldn’t up the visual quality. I can see myself starting and finishing entire games on Project Stream, whereas a week ago I would’ve thought otherwise.
Short version is, this is incredible technology. Both tests were mostly stable for me, with very few latency issues. Assassin's Creed Odyssey on Project Stream doesn’t seem to get anywhere close to 60 frames per second, and there are no graphical settings to play around with, but what I’ve seen so far is way more smooth than I expected, considering I was playing in a damn internet browser.
To say that the streaming service and its presentation of Assassin's Creed Odyssey were impressive would be an understatement. Given the choice between playing the standard PC version of the game and the Project Stream version, I’d probably choose streaming. With Project Stream, the game launches a little quicker, and you only really lose the top end of quality. For those with the internet connection to play — but without a suitable computer to handle the traditional install — it's hard to imagine a better setup than Project Stream, even in these early days.
True remote game streaming is a holy grail for hardware developers heading into the next generation. Whichever company manages to master it will potentially hold the keys to the future, much as Valve was able to capture the digital distribution market with Steam. Services ranging from Onlive to PlayStation Now have tried, but none have quite caught on.
It's still extremely early days, but seamlessly streaming a game as hefty as Assassin's Creed Odyssey right into a browser is a pretty solid achievement for Project Stream. If Project Stream pays off, it could put Google squarely in the middle of the gaming conversation when the PS5 and its ilk eventually launch.
But it will have competition. Earlier today, Microsoft revealed plans for Project xCloud, which its plans to deploy for a public test next year.
Whoever emerges as the winner, these are truly heady days as developers inch closer to reaching the decade-long dream of being able to stream games. With initiatives like Project Stream, the Netflix boom for gaming maybe closer than we think.
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