Google Stadia games at GDC 2019: everything just announced



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Stadia's director, Phil Harrison, announces the new service.

James Martin / CNET

When you think of ways to play famous video games, you probably think of Microsoft's Xbox, the Sony PlayStation, or the Nintendo Switch.

If Google succeeds, you'll soon be Stadia Service also.

The technology giant announced its new streaming gaming service at a press event during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. The new service, called Stadia, is designed to let people play and watch games together, according to Google. The company said it plans to bring players, broadcasters on YouTube and game developers to create a new experience. It will be released later this year, Google said, without saying anything about how much it will cost.

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"Our ambition is far beyond a single game," said Phil Harrison of Google. Instead, the company sees the opportunity to give players "instant access" to a game by clicking on a link. "The power of instant access is magical and has already transformed the music and film industries."

Google provoked its announcement with a video game museum.

James Martin / CNET

The service allows players to play standard PC games within anything they can surf the web, including a TV, a phone, a tablet and of course a PC. The games are equipped with Google's high-performance computers, which then stream the images to the web browser in a manner similar to that of Netflix. And they are broadcast in high definition video up to 4k, at 60 frames per second, which means the animations will move smoothly.

Players play using a controller designed by Google, which connects via Wi-Fi to Stadia systems.

"It's perfect," Harrison said.

Google is not the only company doing this. Sony offered its PlayStation Now streaming gaming service since 2014, and Nvidia chip maker offers a call GeForce Now. Microsoft is also preparing an Xbox-related streaming service called Project xCloud, expected in the next two years.

Here's all we know about Google's service so far.

It uses the "cloud"

The service relies on Google's massive global computer and server network that already offers YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail. Google said it has developed specialized graphics chips and computer chips to make their systems work great for gaming.

Google has a driver

The rumors were true: Google has developed a controller for its Stadia service. But unlike most game controllers that connect to a video game console, the Stadia controller is designed to connect directly to the Internet to ensure the fastest connection.

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The Stadia controller.

Claudia Cruz / CNET

Stadia flows in high quality

Google said its service currently broadcasts videos at 1080p, 60fps. But at the launch later this year, Google said it should be able to record videos from 4K to 60fps and in the future could produce video from 8k to 120fps.

Google already has partners

The company said it is working with Ubisoft, maker of the popular adventure games Assassin's Creed, and Id Software, makers of Doom, to bring the games to the service.

Google will make its own games

The company also said it started a gaming studio, such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. The company did not show any planned games, but recruited industry veterans such as former Electronic Arts and Ubisoft executive Jade Raymond.

We do not know how much it will cost

Of all the things Google has announced, it has not put a price on it at all. It's fair to assume that games will probably cost the same as they normally do on a standard Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo, but the company stays quiet for now.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, said in an interview after the event that he expects several different approaches, from direct purchase to the rental of the game, where people sign up to play for a certain number of hours.

Stadia is designed with YouTube in mind

Google has shown how Stadia can stream videos to viewers and also offer ways to participate. One example described by Google was a "play" button on a YouTube video that takes you directly to the game on Stadia. Another example was to allow players to watch someone play a game of basketball, for example, can click on a link to participate.

Google also said that Stadia will have a "State Share" feature where people can share a link that lets someone play starting at exactly the same point in the game they are in.

Google wants developers to use Stadia as well

Google said it has partnered with game development software makers such as Epic Games, Unity and Cryengine to ensure that game developers can take advantage of its technology.

CNET's Lori Grunin contributed to this report.

First published on 12 March at 10:35 PT.
Updated March 19 at 9:55 PM PT: Add Google details and expectations for the event; 11:55 PM PT: Adds information about everything just announced.

Game Developers Conference

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