Google announces Stadia game streaming platform

Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the announcement of Stadia on Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference. (Google/YouTube)

Google on Tuesday officially announced its new game streaming platform, Stadia, aimed toward building a unified platform for game developers, players and YouTube creators.

The internet giant said that Stadia is launching first in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe in 2019. The company promised more details this summer on launch titles. Google did not reveal pricing for the service.

More than 100 game developers already have hardware for Stadia development. Id Software was on hand during the official unveiling to show a demo of its game, “Doom Eternal,” which will be available on the platform. Stadia will also have its own in-house development team headed up by Jade Raymond.

During the gameplay and interface demo, Google showed a “Play Now” button embedded within a YouTube video that allowed users can almost instantly access a video game. Stadia will allow users to play games on desktops, laptops, TV, tablets and smartphones. For TV, the Stadia demo used a Chromecast HDMI streaming device and a Bluetooth-connected controller.

Existing controllers will be compatible with the service but Google is releasing its own Stadia controller. The controller connects via Wi-Fi and links directly to the device running gameplay from Google’s cloud data center. The controller also features dedicated social media sharing and Google Assistant buttons. The Google Assistant button will bring up on-screen videos to help gamers with difficult parts of the current game they’re playing.

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The service also includes a feature called Crowd Play that allows users watching a livestream of a game to actively jump in and start playing, as well as State Share, which allows video game livestreamers to share exact replicas of gameplay scenarios with viewers watching the livestream.

Google built Stadia’s architecture in the data center, which uses the company’s global fiber-based network and edge computing nodes. That architecture will allow Stadia to stream games in 4K with HDR at 60 fps and, in the future, Google said it will be able to support 8K and higher than 120 fps.

To help with the rendering, Google partnered with AMD to build a custom GPU that offers more than 10 teraflops of power, higher than Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro.

The launch of Stadia comes after Google last year announced its Project Stream trials, which livestreamed Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” at 1080p within the Chrome browser.

Google's announcement video: