Google Stadia, beyond the consoles

Stadia is the cloud gaming platform wanted by Google to revolutionize the world of video games online: it works without using traditional consoles, to play in streaming wherever you want, when you want and how you want.

Google Stadia Logo

According to Google, the video game console is no longer needed: Stadia, the new cloud gaming platform, intends to put Xbox and PlayStation offside to create something new and different, based on the cloud and accessible everywhere. Not that the idea is an absolute novelty, let’s be clear, but until today no one has had the strength to take such an announcement to the extreme: now that Google is on the field things could change instead.

The project was launched by Google with the support of names such as AMD, Unreal Engine, Unity and Havok. Ubisoft appears to be among the very first partners, so immediately on the launching pad for the first previews that Stadia also brings to Italy starting from November 2019. The access cost is completely limited, up to the possibility of creating free accounts.

What is Stadia?

Stadia is the gaming platform developed by Google that allows you to access video games in streaming and without using any console. The principle is that of ” cloud gaming “, ie a gaming platform based on cloud resources instead of local resources. This means that the data is not processed by the computing power of a console located near the player (as in the case of PC games or traditional Xbox / PlayStation), but by dedicated remote servers. More simply, Stadia is to video games like Netflix to movies or Spotify to music: access is remote, the model is innovative.

In an infrastructure like that of Stadia the management of the entire entertainment experience is entrusted to the server farms, therefore, and to the efficiency of the communication channels between the server and the client used by the user. The gaming experience is quality when there is no lag, the flow of the game is fluid and the user can enjoy his experience without ever having to think about the fact that he is talking in direct contact with a remote server.

In all respects it is a form of streaming-based gaming : game information is received by the user within a continuous stream of images, while the user in turn interacts by sending his own decisions to the server. game. In the promises of Google, the user of the Stadia platform will not notice in any way to be at work on a cloud platform and this efficiency will bring the gaming experience to a new dimension: more transversal, less expensive and based on logic of ” gaming as a service “.

Will Google make it where others have failed and many have not yet ventured? Are gaming consoles already the past? Google believes this is the right time for Stadia and for cloud gaming: investment is important, the bet is high-sounding and the opportunities are abnormal.

Stadia’s cloud-based infrastructure evolves to meet the needs of YouTube players, developers and creators.

Play where you want, when you want

The step is short from the always-on to the always-on game. The cloud gaming, in fact, allows you to access your games almost everywhere because you just need a smartphone in your pocket, a sufficient connection speed and a sufficient number of GB to be able to play at any time.

The cloud platform therefore detaches users from the fixed location, but at the same time elevates not just the promises carried out so far by other actors already active in cloud gaming for a long time. No download required, no installation, no patches : with a click you are inside the game, with a click if it is out, and you don’t need to think about anything else.

Not only: thanks to the Crowd Play function, with a simple click you can access a multiplayer game , allowing you to have a room always full of opportunities from which to choose your favorite match play.

4K definition, 60fps

The promise of Google is that of a fluid and pleasant gaming experience, offering the user images with definition up to 4K and with a frequency of 60fps . In other words, on smartphones and TVs, you will not have to experience slowdowns and, indeed, the user will have to be able to enjoy HDR quality images and surround sound  (provided for users with a paid profile).

How much?

Google has announced two types of subscriptions  for access to the gaming experience offered by Stadia, with different prices and features:

  • Stadia Pro: 9.99 euros per month
    Allows a resolution up to 4K, a frame rate of 60FPS and 5.1 surround sound, to which are added exclusive discounts on a selection of games and the possibility of free access to a whole series of titles ;
  • Stadia Base: free
    Allows a resolution up to (however excellent) Full HD, frame rate equal to 60 FPS, stereo audio; there are no games available for free and it is not possible to access exclusive discounts reserved for Pro subscribers.Also available a package called ” Founder’s Edition ” reserved for the very first that intend to get on board.In reasoning this type of prices, however, it is immediately necessary to metabolize the idea of ​​what is a different gaming system, which also determines a new business model. In this case, both the console and video games, for example, are not for sale: there are therefore no high initial costs for access to the platform, but anyone can access them for free or almost.Furthermore, the games will not be purchased on any physical support since no material availability (on DVD) or intangible (allocated on a local disk) is required: cloud gaming suggests a “gaming as a service” mode in which various forms of subscription (to the platform or to premium games) replace the traditional purchase.Change the support, change the supply chain, change the logic of the market, change the whole model: just as streaming has changed the way people pay for movies and music, so will video games.

Launch

Stadia’s debut is scheduled for November. Google explained that there are 14 countries sure of having immediate access to the platform. This is the complete list of countries involved from day one: Italy, Belgium, Finland, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Games

Two titles will liven up the experience on Google Stadia right away: Ubisoft has announced Assassin’s Creed Odissey, while id Software has removed the veils on DOOM Eternal. The entire Ubisoft catalog is intended for porting to Stadia, while in general the cloud logic should encourage large video game manufacturers to produce titles that, once entrusted to Google servers, will in turn be declined from time to time to the different devices with which you will have access to the game.

No one will have to worry about developing a desktop version, one for consoles and one for mobile: Stadia was born for this and asks large groups to simply develop for the cloud.

We present you Stadia, the new Google aming platform to enjoy triple games wherever you want, on any device.

An immediate confirmation is that relating to the exclusives. The games that Stadia will be able to have for itself (without excluding the possibility of self-production) will constitute a very high competitive value, just like Netflix did to establish itself in the world of streaming video. So it will also be for Stadia: exclusive video games that characterize the experience on the platform compared to competitors, raising the overall level and trying to dig a gap between Mountain View and the competition.

The debut games

This is the stock that Google promises users for its debut in Italy:

  • DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE 2
  • Eternal DOOM
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Destiny 2
  • Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Metro Exodus
  • Thumper
  • GRID
  • SAMURAI SHODOWN
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Get Packed
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Crew 2
  • The Division 2
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Trials Rising
  • NBA 2K
  • Borderlands 3
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Rage 2
  • FINAL FANTASY XV
  • Gylt
  • Tomb Raider Trilogy
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Just Dance 2020

Hardware

The Google Stadia platform lets you play anywhere and with almost any device. The technical specifications requested are not currently known, but in fact, in order to start their own experience, the user must ensure that they only have:

  • a display (smartphone, monitor, TV);
  • a connection;
  • a device for starting the game (a browser like Chrome, Chromecast or the app on a smartphone).

Nothing else is needed because GPUs, CPUs and memory are in effect elements delegated to Google: the information is not processed locally, but managed by the remote server that sends the client only the final result necessary for the game.

The absence of restrictive requirements therefore indicates the possibility of accessing Google Stadia from both smartphones and PCs, as well as from tablets or from Chromecast , all with a privileged relationship between the gaming platform and the YouTube video.

The controller

To make the experience on Stadia as good as possible, however, Google has also developed a special controller designed to offer gamers faster and more exciting management of their video games. Through the Wifi network, the Stadia controller generates a direct connection with Google servers, thus allowing a direct, fast and without mediation dialogue that in some way is like the traditional one between controller and console. The difference is that in this case the distance is not a few meters, but several hundred km.

The controller – available in white, black and blue – allows you to have all the traditional functions of video games, but at the same time allows you to take snapshots of images for later sharing, or to access the Google Assistant via a special built-in microphone ( a function that, in all likelihood, will also transform the controller into a sort of Google Home salsa input device in perspective.

The Stadia datacenter

The computing power and memory that Stadia will have to support are all concentrated in the data centers that Google is developing. As the client is eliminated, limiting all functionality to a monitor and an input sensor, all the weight is on the infrastructure.

To this end, Google has set up a very high-end budget, with specifications destined to grow further as users increase:

  • 2.86 GHz hyper-threaded custom x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5 MB of L2 + L3 cache;
  • Custom AMD GPUs with HBM2 memory and 56 compute units;
  • 16 GB of RAM with performance up to 484 GB / s;
  • cloud storage SSD.

Band and connection

How much bandwidth does it take to access entertainment with Google Stadia? Google explained immediately:

A high-speed Internet connection is required. Viewing in 4K HDR at 60 FPS depends on the bandwidth. The gaming experience may vary depending on the quality of your Internet connection.

The  amount of bandwidth required for streaming games on Stadia must therefore be of a certain level, since the promised images are able to reach 4K with frame rates of 60 frames per second – and quality is guaranteed by the secure adoption of algorithms adaptive able to scale quality and definition with decreasing connection performance. Just as it is complex to be able to enjoy a film in high definition when the bandwidth is not particularly performing, all the more will the experience be complex in gaming, where the instantaneousness is everything and where the buffer is often outside the possibilities of the game.

Hence the precise specifications indicated by Google in the presentation phase: at least 10 Mbps in download and 1 Mbps in upload are required for a minimum gaming experience, with performance increasing based on the download bandwidth capacity. For a valid 1080p experience (as guaranteed to free accounts) 20 Mbps is required, while for a true 4K experience of a Stadia Pro account 35 Mbps is required.

Google has also developed a simple speed test that allows you to understand if your current connection is able to support the desired gaming experience.

Bandwidth consumption will be particularly important when access to the game will be from a mobile station, where the limit of the GB available to your smartphone could impose specific limits on entertainment on Stadia. The same general framework of mobile consumer offers are therefore destined to change, with a nod to those who want to enjoy a cloud gaming experience on the move looking for support in the speed and capacity of special subscriptions.

Stadia and YouTube

Stadia will have a privileged relationship with YouTube by definition . This happens for various reasons and the first is that of a sort of common vocation: YouTube, which has always been synonymous with video streaming , will host images and game trailers, becoming in many ways also a showcase for the videogame experience of others. Furthermore the repository will become a Trojan horse for games, since a click will be enough to switch from viewing a game to direct access to the game itself.

Therefore, from the first day YouTube is a candidate to become a sort of compendium at Google Stadia, and vice versa the promise of synergies is certainly not hidden. Stadia and YouTube are therefore destined to become the two sides of the same coin of cloud gaming: on the one hand there is the experience of direct gaming, on the other there is the indirect one of gameplay images. The union between the two parties gives Google a privileged position to make Stadia a must for anyone who loves video games.

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