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Google have now finally unveiled their new cloud gaming service named Stadia, offering instant access to play games in Google Chrome.

What they joked was the worst-kept secret in the industry (no kidding), sounds like quite an interesting service. Certainly one that could eventually end up redefining what gaming is. A little hyperbolic maybe? I'm not so sure considering how easy this should be to jump into a game. On top of that, they very clearly talked about how it's built on Linux (Debian specifically) and Vulkan with custom GPUs from AMD.

Something they showed off, was how you could be watching a game trailer with a button to play it on Stadia and (supposedly within a few seconds) you would jump right into it. That's quite en exciting idea, one that would easily pull in quite a lot of people I've no doubt.

As for resolution, they said it will support 1080p and 4K around 60FPS at release with 8K being worked on as well but that sounds further out if anyone even cares about 8K right now.

They also showed off their new controller, with a dedicated Google Assistant button and a button to capture video immediately for YouTube:


While Google are making their own dedicated gamepad, they did say it will be compatible with other devices too.

They also announced partnerships with both Unity and Unreal Engine and Stadia will "embrace full cross-platform play" including "game saves and progression". They also had id Software, talk about how it didn't take long to bring the new Doom Eternal to Stadia, thanks to how they made the previous Doom game with Vulkan.

This means, that development for Linux is suddenly going to become a priority for a lot more developers and publishers. I don't want to overstate how important that is, but it's a very exciting prospect. This doesn't suddenly mean we're going to see a lot more Linux games on the desktop, but it's entirely possible after they go through all the work to get the games working on Linux with Vulkan for Stadia.

Stream Connect is another service they talked about. They mentioned how developers have pushed the boundaries of gaming but often local co-op is left out, as doing it multiple times in top-end games can require really beefy hardware. With Stradia, each instance would be powered by their servers so it wouldn't be such an issue. They also talked about how if you're playing some sort of squad-based game, how you could bring up their screen to see what they're doing which sounds very cool.

Google also announced the formation of their own game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, to work on exclusive games for their new service.

As for support from more external game developers, they mentioned how they've shipped "development hardware" to over 100 developers. From what they said, it should be open to smaller developers as well as the usual AAA bunch.

Stadia is confirmed to be launching this year and it will be first available in the US, Canada, UK and "most of Europe". One thing wasn't mentioned at all—price, but they said more details will be available in the summer. The official site is also now up on stadia.com and developers have their own website to look over.

Google also posted up some extra information on their developer blog:

Google believes that open source is good for everyone. It enables and encourages collaboration and the development of technology, solving real-world problems. This is especially true on Stadia, as we believe the game development community has a strong history of collaboration, innovation and shared gains as techniques and technology continually improve. We’re investing in open-source technology to create the best platform for developers, in partnership with the people that use it. This starts with our platform foundations of Linux and Vulkan and shows in our selection of GPUs that have open-source drivers and tools. We’re integrating LLVM and DirectX Shader Compiler to ensure you get great features and performance from our compilers and debuggers. State-of-the-art graphics tools are critical to game developers, and we’re excited to leverage and contribute to RenderDoc, GAPID and Radeon GPU Profiler — best of breed open-source graphics debugging and profiling tools that are continually improving.

There's probably plenty I missed, you can see their video on YouTube here.

As exciting and flashy as it sounds, it's obviously not Linux "desktop" gaming which is what the majority of our audience is likely interested in. However, things change and if it does become a huge hit we will cover it more often if readers request it. Linux gaming can mean all sorts of things from native games to emulators, Wine and Steam Play and now perhaps some cloud gaming so I don't want to rule it out. However, I can't see this replacing Steam, Humble, GOG, itch.io and so on for me personally.

Obviously there’s still a lot of drawbacks to such a service, especially since you will likely have zero ownership of the actual games so they could get taken away at any time when licensing vanishes. At least with stores like Steam, you still get to access those games because you purchased them. Although, this does depend on what kind of licensing Google do with developers and publishers, it might not be an issue at all but it’s still a concern of mine. Latency and input lag, are also two other major concerns but given Google's power with their vast networks, it might not be so bad.

Also, good luck monitoring your bandwidth use with this, it's likely going to eat up a lot all of it. YouTube and Netflix use up quite a bit just for watching a 30-minute episode of something in good quality, how about a few hours per day gaming across Stadia? Ouch.

That doesn't even address the real elephant in the room, you're going to be giving Google even more of your data if you use this service, a lot more. This is the company that failed to promptly disclose a pretty huge data leak in Google+ after all. I don't want to be some sort of scaremongering crazy-person but it's something to think about.

As always, the comments are open for you to voice your opinion on it. Please remain respectful to those with a different opinion on the matter.

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310 comments
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elmapul 20 March 2019 at 8:09 am UTC
Klaas
elmapul
KlaasAnd to add something new to the discussion: It's very energy inefficient. Streaming videos a already a huge waste of energy – and this has to be a lot worse.
not really, if you have an older computer, it may waste more energy doing less, the issue with newer and powerfull comptuters is that they tend to not do less.

Why? Let's assume as a simplification that the local computer that is able to run the game uses as much energy as the Stadia Server component and the local computer that is used as a thin client require the same amount of energy. Do you think the infrastructure necessary for the communication does not require energy at all? The infrastructure required for video streaming requires huge bandwidth and a lot of energy. The infrastructure needed for game streaming needs huge bandwidth and low latency – so it has to require more energy.

ok, i will change my phrase from not really to " not necessarily", better now?
elmapul 20 March 2019 at 8:10 am UTC
as for the DRM issue, we will finally get an ansewer to the question:
piracy harm sales?
or they increasse then by promoting the content to more people who might purchase then as result?
Nevertheless 20 March 2019 at 8:32 am UTC
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elmapul
Nevertheless
ShabbyXDisclaimer: I work at Google (though not on Stadia), previously Eidos Montreal (Shadow of the Tomb Raider).

Games running on Stadia are primarily native. Yeap, engines you never dreamed would support Linux, now do thanks to Google.

As Stadia has its own SDK, porting from Stadia to Desktop means adding SDL support and supporting the desktop swapchains. Personally, I think the biggest hurdle with desktop support would be testing and bug fixing, as with Stadia the game is really just tested on AMD. That said, as a desktop Linux gamer myself, I'm certainly hoping this would help get us more AAA games. If nothing, all the open source work means better mesa, faster kernel, more advanced profilers etc which are all good for our cause.

Regarding Google and data, believe me, Google is the farthest from evil.

I really don't think of Google as evil. Amongst other activities Google collects and farms data about human behaviour. They refine it with and to algorithms. Aside from advertising this can be used for all kinds of things, some of them I even think humanity really needs to save itself and the planet.
I think we are very much driven by individual or small group progress, and we tend not to care the negative effects it can have when masses of individuals follow those goals. That's why we worsen traffic jams with egoistic behaviour, that we even hate when others do it. That's why we burn our climate driving SUVs, consuming our a$$es off and so on...
I really think we could use some algorithmic control over that human problems.
There comes the "but". Those algorithms NEED to be transparent, contestable and open source. NO corporation should control them!
Google may even be of best interests, but it is a corporation consisting of human beeings, and will be controlled by other unknown humans after them (controlled by shareholders who only have their individual financial goals).
Not evil, but potential harmful now or in the future. There is only one thing Google can do to make sure it won't be harmful one day, and that would mean make all data availlable to the public.

humans CANT parse so many data, even google is not in complete control of their algorithms, they use AI for that.

If it concerns our life, we, not just Google, should be able to understand what those algorithms / AI do(es)!


Last edited by Nevertheless at 20 March 2019 at 8:34 am UTC
liamdawe 20 March 2019 at 10:24 am UTC
Hopfenmeister
QuoteIf some AAA games start to be developed for these Stadia servers, i strongly doubt they'll be available for Linux desktop on others stores. I don't think Ubisoft or Square care about the tiny Linux market share, but i'm sure they care about the potential massive audience they could reach with Google

Imagine you are a game publisher with a game developed for Stadia, but you don't care about releasing for Linux because you are scared of having to support different distributions and hardware configurations? I have a business proposal for you...
I actually tweeted about this last night, I wonder if it might be a boon for porting houses like Aspyr and Feral. They have a lot of Linux expertise already and they do a good job, so they might see some calls. If they sweeten the pot to release on Steam for some extra monies = win win.
DefaultX-od 20 March 2019 at 10:37 am UTC
So the Shadow of The Tomb Raider that has been shown on the presentation is not work of feral interactive.
tuxdelux 20 March 2019 at 11:15 am UTC
Surprised to see all the complaints about privacy / drm / lack of ownership / linux support here, after seeing all the justification for compromise for other linux gaming advancements. I predict this is going to be hugely successful for some types of games, and in a few years, it will be totally accepted. The complaints remind me of the same things I heard for word processors (google docs), music cds (streaming), and dvds (netflix).

Plus, on Steam, I can see how much time people play on their games. For the vast, vast majority of games, people only have a couple hours of play-time. Why spend $60 for a game that you might not like, that you probably will play for a couple hours? And then there are one-shot games, like point and click games or visual novel games, where there is just no reason at all to own the game after completing.

I have spent many hundred of dollars on 450 games, over the last year, on steam, and a majority of those games are not ever going to get much playtime. So, Google Stadia will give access to some of the same games at a flat monthly rate? Sign me up.
silmeth 20 March 2019 at 11:20 am UTC
I have another random thought about it.

I wonder if Valve could exploit it somehow to convince more publishers to support (some kind of) Linux desktop.

Stadia supposedly is a single uniform hardware platform (working in a cloud, but still a set hardware and software configuration, like a console). Valve hypothetically could try to basically copy this configuration (similar AMD CPU and a GPU, Debian-based SteamOS with the same drivers) and release it as the new Steam Machine, and advertise it as its new PC-compatible console that is also compatible with Stadia and has just one supported configuration.

Then they could market it that if you already have a Stadia version, you can just release it for the Steam Machine, and not worry about support for other Linuxes and hw configuration.

This might generate compatibility issues for other distros (but still, most games target only Ubuntu, so eg. Arch or Fedora users already have this problem) and Intel+nVidia PCs, but in the age of open APIs and good drivers it shouldn’t be that problematic. And it might convince more companies to release the Linux versions.


Last edited by silmeth at 20 March 2019 at 11:25 am UTC
Shmerl 20 March 2019 at 11:21 am UTC
tuxdeluxSurprised to see all the complaints about privacy / drm / lack of ownership / linux support here

Not sure what to be surprised here about. Making DRM matters worse, not better is a major step in the wrong direction.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 March 2019 at 11:21 am UTC
fabertawe 20 March 2019 at 11:22 am UTC
tuxdeluxSurprised to see all the complaints about privacy / drm / lack of ownership / linux support here, after seeing all the justification for compromise for other linux gaming advancements. I predict this is going to be hugely successful for some types of games, and in a few years, it will be totally accepted. The complaints remind me of the same things I heard for word processors (google docs), music cds (streaming), and dvds (netflix).

Plus, on Steam, I can see how much time people play on their games. For the vast, vast majority of games, people only have a couple hours of play-time. Why spend $60 for a game that you might not like, that you probably will play for a couple hours? And then there are one-shot games, like point and click games or visual novel games, where there is just no reason at all to own the game after completing.

I have spent many hundred of dollars on 450 games, over the last year, on steam, and a majority of those games are not ever going to get much playtime. So, Google Stadia will give access to some of the same games at a flat monthly rate? Sign me up.

Spot on. It will be a thing going forward, like it or not.

One caveat - I will never personally use it myself! I detest Google.
fabertawe 20 March 2019 at 11:26 am UTC
Shmerl
tuxdeluxSurprised to see all the complaints about privacy / drm / lack of ownership / linux support here

Not sure what to be surprised here about. Making DRM matters worse, not better is a major step in the wrong direction.

It's only DRM if it's the only way to play the game. As someone pointed out earlier, going to the cinema isn't DRM, you can buy the DVD if you want to "own" it. Same thing exactly.
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