Game streaming platform Google Stadia supports 4k at 60fps and will be released this year

Google has unveiled its game streaming platform and accompanying controller during the Game Developer Conference. The Stadia service works on all devices running Chrome. Google is also setting up its own game studio.

When Stadia becomes available, it will be possible to stream games in 4k resolution with 60fps and HDR, Google says. In the future there will be support for 8k and frame rates of 120fps and above. In an earlier test, the search giant still worked with streams of up to full-HD and 60fps.

During the announcement, Google showed an example of a game trailer on YouTube with a Play Now button at the end. A click on that button takes users directly to the game; that would go in less than five seconds. Google Stadia works in the Chrome browser and will initially work on desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets and smartphones. Players can smoothly transfer their session from one device to another. Google demonstrated this on the basis of a play session with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Stadia games can be played with mouse and keyboard or existing controllers, but Google is also coming with its own Stadia controller. It uses a WiFi connection and is therefore not connected to a device, but to a game session. For example, if a user starts a game on a PC and then continues to play on a tablet, the controller will work directly in the session on that other device.

The Stadia controller has a Capture button that allows users to instantly share images to YouTube. This is possible because in addition to the stream for playing the game, there is always a 4k stream available that can be shared on YouTube. Furthermore, the controller has an Assistant button and a microphone. Developers can add functionality to their games that work with it, for example to ask for help.

The AMD GPUs that Google uses for Stadia have 10.7 teraflops of processing power, 56 compute units and use hbm2 memory. With this, the specifications seem to correspond to the Vega 56 video card. One GPU is used per instance, but it is also possible to use multiple GPUs in an instance for more graphical computing power if necessary. Stadia continues to work with a custom x86 CPU that runs at 2.7GHz. Google does not say how many threads are available per instance; It probably varies from game to game.

Developers must develop games specifically or make them suitable for Stadia. Google’s platform currently works with the Unreal Engine and Unity. Everything runs on Linux and uses the Vulkan API. Google says it has sent hardware to more than a hundred studios so they can get started. In addition, the website has been set up, with documentation for developers. During the presentation, id Software demonstrated Doom Eternal. That game is coming to Stadia and will run in 4k resolution at 60fps on Google’s servers.

Google will also develop its own games. Before that, it founded Stadia Games and Entertainment. Jade Raymond is put in charge of the game studio. She has twenty years of experience in the game industry and previously worked at the top of Ubisoft and before that she managed several studios of EA.

Google says it is embracing cross-platform with Stadia. As far as Google is concerned, it should even become possible to transfer save games from one platform to another. Whether console builders such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will support this, however, remains to be seen.

Furthermore, Stadia supports features such as split-screen multiplayer. It is also possible to show multiple streams on screen, for example if players play a multiplayer game in a team. Players can then see the image of each other.

Stadia operates at Google’s data centers worldwide, which are located in more than two hundred countries. As a result, the lag should be limited, because the servers are close to the users. According to Google, Stadia will be available this year in both the US and most European countries. More will be announced in the summer about the games that will be playable. The service appears to be coming out sometime in the fall. It is not yet clear what playing games via Stadia will cost.