With its TV, movie, and music streaming services already established, the company’s announcement at GDC of a game streaming service was more or less inevitable. Powered by Google’s network of datacentres, with each server instance supported by a custom AMD GPU clocking in at 10.7 teraflops (that’s more than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined), a 2.7GHz x86 processor, and 16GB of RAM, Stadia can stream games in 4K 60 fps to almost every device with a screen – including PCs, smartphones and tablets, TVs, and maybe even one or two microwaves. At launch, however, the service is limited to Google’s Chrome browser, and Chromecast and Pixel devices.
It’s the future of cloud gaming services. Literally for us in South Africa, because Stadia is scheduled to go live sometime in 2019 in US, Canada, the UK, and “most of Europe”, missing the bottom of the planet entirely. The minimum connection speed requirement is also at about 25 Mbps and who even knows what sort of data usage, precluding most of you on DSL, LTE, and even fibre anyway.
But besides those technical restrictions, Google’s (almost) global datacentre infrastructure should somewhat mitigate the latency problems that other cloud gaming services like OnLive couldn’t solve. With installations in over 200 countries, Stadia can stream content to local customers in those locations with minimal latency – for comparison, a ping from my PC in Cape Town to Microsoft’s Azure datacentre in Joburg is about 25ms. Google has no datacentres here or any other country in Africa, though, so… bummer.
Google also revealed its own controller, a mostly conventional gamepad featuring some unique function buttons for YouTube uploads and Google Assistant.
No subscription costs have been confirmed for the moment, or even if Stadia is a subscription service. But it’s probably a subscription service.