Changing the game, Google style.

Incumbents? What incumbents?

Peter McGuinness

Getting into Google’s keynote session at GDC today was more than I could do,  so three cheers for the streaming technology that allowed me to see it anyway huddled around a monitor in the press room at the Moscone Center.  

Streaming technology, it turned out, was the star of the show in more ways than one as Sundar Pichai introduced Phil Harrison to announce a new gaming platform, a new developer ecosystem, a new GPU and a new game studio. We have known for a while that Google has been experimenting with streaming AAA games and today we discovered its name – Stadia – and how Google plans to use it to sweep aside the established players in the games industry.

The premise is simple: the game market is fractured across hardware and software platforms for both developers and gamers, to provide a universal platform for developers to target and let gamers play those titles on any device that has a screen and an internet connection. Oh, and while you are at it, to break the stranglehold of app stores and walled gardens by opening up access to the entire internet. 

Pichai’s point was that no-one but Google has the ability to do this, combining their network infrastructure with the technology that drives the instant response of YouTube and he is probably right.

It sounds like a dream come true for game developers and a nightmare for consoles when AAA games can be played in 4k resolution on that Chromecast device you bought last year. That’s the promise, and it has developers clamoring to know how they can get access. 

The service will launch in 2019 in North America and Europe so we are going to see this have an impact very quickly with support coming from Ubisoft, Id, and others as well as Google’s own studio.

More details and analysis to come …