Google is developing the conference in San Francisco today. Google showed up its brand new streaming service. Stages (which in the Latin majority of the "stadium") will be available everywhere where Chrome is: PC, phones, tablets and televisions, with current hardware.
Google gave us a preview of its system with Project Stream last year. But Stadia is built from the ground up for both streaming and sharing. The service will stream games up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (depending on your connection, of course), with even more resolution and speed planned for future upgrades. 8K and 120 FPS support are available on the roadmap.
Players can move the game at any time they play from one device to another without interrupting or losing progress. And a constantly exciting stream of games can be shared with YouTube at any time. The service works on everything that can run an app, including the cheap Chromecasts demonstration TVs using a Chromecast Ultra.
Google's new platform is actually a platform not just a series of virtualized Windows computers as seen on services such as OnLive or GeForce NOW. The spine gives developers an x86 Linux instance running the Volcano graphics API, with processor and GPU hardware twice as powerful as an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro (much the same as an advanced gaming PC). Developers can also have the system run on several GPUs if the game requires it.
How about controlling these games? The system will work with existing "USB controllers" according to Google Phil Harrison, as well as regular mice and keyboards. But Google also releases a dedicated Stadia controller. It looks pretty much like a regular Xbox controller, with additional buttons for sharing to YouTube and enabling the ever-present Google Assistant. But it hides a new trick: it connects via Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. This allows the controller to connect directly to Google's Stadia services and control the game over the network without a legal display device in the middle. It is a big difference for a apparently static design.
Google's 100% cloud method includes some great opportunities. Players can click on an ad link on YouTube and start playing this game in seconds. Multiplayer games can use multiple Stage instances to perform local split screens without slowing down or transmitting large amounts of players in new ways, such as streaming different views in a game world controlled through a YouTube viewer. Players can share video live, or even the mode for themselves for other players to jump to their own instance at any time. All games will have multi-platform capabilities available to developers, including saving and synchronizing progress.
With any gaming platform, Stadia will live and die on the games. As cool as the platform, Google needs support from major publishers and developers to bring games that people really want in the service. Google showed partnerships with some big names like Ubisoft and Bethesda (who said the upcoming DOOM Eternal was already running on the Stadia platform) but was a bit cagey on other big game or developer specific messages.
But that's not all. Google is also a publisher now: Stadia Games and Entertainment publishes their own games, just as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo do for each console. The stage will have exclusive titles, all of which have access to Google's wide range of cloud tools. Make no mistake, with an attack on hardware, service and content fronts, Stadia is an incessant invasion of the gaming industry that we know.
When can you try gaming streams with the Stadia? Google is a bit foresee at that time. The service comes to the US, Canada, the UK and Western Europe sometime later this year. Google's presentation said there would be more information in the summer, so it is reasonable to expect either a beta program or a full launch in the fall or winter. Pricing for Stadia, and whether it will be a subscription service, sell games a la carte or any combination of the two, was not taken up.