Last year Google announced Project Stream, a limited streaming test built around Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. After a short test period in January, the project ended and Google kept pretty quiet about its future game streaming plans. At GDC 2019 Google finally broke the silence with the announcement of Stadia.

The idea of a streaming gaming service is nothing new (remember Onlive?), but Google’s Stadia appears to be one of the most ambitious attempts yet.

What is Google Stadia?

Presentation of Google Stadia specifications at GDC 2019

The new Stadia service is built for gamers of all backgrounds. The cloud-based service works seamlessly with Chromecast Ultra, the Chrome Browser, desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. It features the ability to instantly switch to devices within seconds, making it possible to take your game experience anywhere — as long as you have a capable Internet connection that is.

The service is based on Linux, and uses Vulkan. Stadia will support many of the most popular game development engines, including Unreal and Unity.

As a cloud-based service, all the heavy lifting is performed by a remote PC. That means it doesn’t really matter whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or computer — the experience will be the same. Google says that Stadia users will have access to the power of a custom AMD 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB RAM, up to 484GB/s transfer speed, and a GPU that has 10.7 teraflops of power.

Stadia gives you the same experience from any device, as long as you have the connection to handle it

Stadia is reportedly more powerful than any gaming console on the market right now, and has the advantage of being easier to upgrade — as hardware upgrades happen remotely at the server side. Depending on your connection, you can choose from 1080p up to 4K. 4K support is at 60fps with HDR and full surround sound support. In the future Google will also offer 8K gaming support, though they don’t specify how far off that is.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about internet connection requirements just yet.

Other Stadia features worth highlighting include:

  • Google Assistant support: Imagine you’re stuck and need some help. Ask Assistant and it’ll give you the advice you need. It’s even possible to overlay a tutorial video on the screen that will walk you through.
  • State Share:  Sharing is a big part of the Stadia experience. With this feature, both gamers and YouTubers can instantly share a playable moment from a game. Basically, a gamer will click on the State Share and are transported to the very moment in the game that the friend/YouTuber wants to show off. It’s not just a video clip, you actually get to experience the action for yourself.

The Stadia Controller is the optimal way to play

Top view of the google stadia controller in black color against a white background.

This proprietary controller connects via WiFi and directly to Google’s servers for a lag-free experience. Some of its key features include built-in Google Assistant support and a Capture button for saving and capturing gaming experience to YouTube.

Of course, you don’t have to use the Stadia controller. While it’s arguably the best way to play, any existing controller scheme should work including controllers, mice, and keyboards.

Backside view of the google stadia controller in white color in a display stand.

Stadia integrates with YouTube

Stadia has several unique features that are built around YouTube:

  • Crowd Play: Imagine you’re watching a YouTube livestream and all of a sudden the YouTuber opens up the game to the audience. You can hit a button and instantly jump right into the game. Not all the details about this have been revealed just yet, but it sounds pretty cool.
  • Instant jump into a game from trailers: Imagine seeing a streaming clip from your favorite host or maybe from a trailer. Google promises you’ll be able to push play and instantly jump into the game — just like that. Againy, we don’t know all the details of this feature just yet.

Stadia game support

Jade Raymond, the head of Google's new first party gaming studio announcing the Google Stadia

Jade Raymond, the head of Google’s new first party gaming studio

A gaming platform is nothing without games, while Google hasn’t given us too many specifics about 3rd party games just yet, Google says more than 100 studios are hard at work to bring games to Stadia. So far the only titles we can really confirm are Doom Eternal and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Interestingly, Google announced its own first-party game studio dubbed Stadia Games and Entertainment. Not only will this studio work on its own experiences, it will also help developer — big and small — implement Stadia technology into their titles.

When is it coming and how much will it cost?

Google Stadia is launching this year in U.S., Canada, UK, and most of Europe. Unfortunately, we still don’t know much else about how the platform will work when it comes to pricing. It’s possible there will be both subscription tiers and premium titles, but that’s just speculation for now.

Google says it will share more about Stadia “this summer”, which we imagine means Stadia will have a big presence at E3 2019.