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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.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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310 comments
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Shmerl 20 March 2019 at 11:36 am UTC
fabertaweIt'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.

It will be the only way to play games through Stadia, i.e. they aren't offering downloads. So it is DRMed. Whether same games will be available DRM-free in other places, remains to be seen, but each store is evaluated according to its policies, not according to what's available in other stores.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 March 2019 at 11:36 am UTC
FredO 20 March 2019 at 11:40 am UTC
silmethI 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.

I'm having a different thought about what Value's working towards.
The real reason for Proton? To get as many of their Steam catalogue working on Linux based servers running in their data centers, to provide a cloud based streaming service for their existing customer base.
The reason for testing steam link over the Internet now, is not just so we can have our home machine running 24/7 while we're on vacation somewhere, but to test their streaming tech over the internet, for use with their future cloud streaming service.

Personally I would love to play my Steam library from anywhere, using Steams data centers directly.
Nanobang 20 March 2019 at 11:53 am UTC
QuoteGoogle announce ‘Stadia’, their new cloud gaming data collection service built on Linux and Vulkan

And "to get 1080p, 60 frames per second," we're gonna need "approximately 25 megabits per second."

I'm in the country, stuck with DSL (0.6 MB/s), with no hope of getting anything better until either the government grows some balls or AT&T grows a soul---so fuck Google.
danniello 20 March 2019 at 12:06 pm UTC
lqe5433Of course it will be heavy DRM-ed, but hey on Steam you also just 'rent' your games. Nobody know what would happen with your library if Steam went bankrupt.

Not exactly the same. Some Steam games do not have DRM (i.e. Valve is not forcing publishers to require Steam DRM checks). Rest of them - yes, they are using Steam DRM (plus second, third-party DRM like uplay), but... in 99% there is already crack available... Yes, I know that using crack is "not cool", but in case of "Valve bankrupts" - using crack would be understandable. There will be no easy way to download game from Stadia and crack it (except leaked games from compromised Stadia servers, but it is Google - probably they will be very well protected).

PS. I think that "Valve bankrupts" is not the worst scenario. In fact, more probably is that Valve will be bought by some greedy big corporation like Microsoft, Facebook or Google and then "Steam going to be subscription based only". But even then - crack will do there work;)
silmeth 20 March 2019 at 12:31 pm UTC
FredOI'm having a different thought about what Value's working towards.
The real reason for Proton? To get as many of their Steam catalogue working on Linux based servers running in their data centers, to provide a cloud based streaming service for their existing customer base.
The reason for testing steam link over the Internet now, is not just so we can have our home machine running 24/7 while we're on vacation somewhere, but to test their streaming tech over the internet, for use with their future cloud streaming service.

Personally I would love to play my Steam library from anywhere, using Steams data centers directly.

I totally agree they’re trying to go in that direction. But streaming is a market they’ll need to fight for. Right now they are a store and get their money from selling PC games, they won’t ditch it that fast, so I guess they’d provide servers you can stream your games from (for free or for a small fee) and perhaps another subscription-based licensing for streaming-only, but I’d guess, at least initially, they still would require all their games to be PC-compatible, sellable to current non-streaming Steam users.

Creating their own Stadia-compatible unified hardware platform they might convince PC publishers to make Linux games and thus help get their players off Windows. But as I wrote, it’s just a random thought, I don’t really think Valve must have the same idea I do.


Last edited by silmeth at 20 March 2019 at 1:50 pm UTC
Mohandevir 20 March 2019 at 1:10 pm UTC
Sure thing, for me, it's Steam first. After that, for titles I can't get any other way, I might consider Stadia, but let's wait and see what form it will take. There are too many unknowns in the equation, for the moment.

The controller looks packed with features and cool, though. Might get one at some point, depending on the price and if it's not locked to Stadia.

Edit: Crazy tought... Stadia on Steam Link (hardware) with Chrome...

Edit2: Is Stadia going to use a "custom" (as in kiosk and dedicated) version of chrome? Like a preconfigured chrome app that you install from the google store?


Last edited by Mohandevir at 20 March 2019 at 1:19 pm UTC
Sir_Diealot 20 March 2019 at 1:27 pm UTC
Will I be a customer? Hell NO!
Most reasons have been mentioned before, but I haven't seen the Google Assistant built into the controller mentioned here.
I hope something positive comes from this.
NeptNutz 20 March 2019 at 1:47 pm UTC
Okay, since Assassin's Creed Odyssey is the showcase title here, let's assume the target for Google is:

90 million PS4
40 million Xbone
20 million enthusiast-ready PC
------------------------------
150 million core gamers

We know Fortnite Battle Royale has blasted past 200 million users, so I don't think it's hard to imagine Google getting 150 million Chrome browser users out of this very quickly. However, what will be the price equilibrium between net-zero hardware investment and dodgy internet connections? It certainly needs to work well enough, for long enough, to convert the curious into the paying customer.

As for all this speculative talk of a Steam streaming service, Gabe Newell shot down game streaming many years ago.

Quote"So there are these $50 sort of things that output [media] from a PC somewhere in your house. There’s Miracast, and Shield from Nvidia, and so on. Those will be the cheap way to do it, and they’ll be high quality in the home. I spent a bunch of time when [OnLive] first started coming out, saying at the end of the day that trying to do that over [the internet] is the wrong idea. It’s the nature of how you build distributed applications; it’s why AT&T lost and the internet won. AT&T said "let's put all the intelligence into the network and at the center of the network." This is a battle that’s been fought many times."
https://www.theverge.com/2013/1/8/3852144/gabe-newell-interview-steam-box-future-of-gaming

Since then, the Internet hasn't changed enough to change that position. The thing that has changed is Google's infrastructure and the "edge" of the cloud moving closer and closer to end users. Alas, Stadia! However, edge computing is really only for end users who don't know the difference between a PC and a carburetor. Assuming Stadia gets enough "buy-in" and people warm up to the ecosystem, what hardware remedy could possibly step in to fill the gap(s) between the edge of the cloud and the core, twitch-reflex, button-mashing gamers? PS4, Xbone, or PC?

Imagine, one afternoon you are happily twiddling away on Stadia playing the latest AAA hit game. Suddenly—without warning—everyone comes home on holiday and your game stream turns to absolute shit! What is a core gamer to do? Well, if you find yourself wanting to drive in the express toll lane during rush hour, there seem like two possibilities: pay for a more exclusive ISP tier (assuming there is one), or have some local Linux/Vulkan hardware and a pre-loaded binary at the ready.

Like with cars, think of this new era as hybrid gaming. It's not for everybody.

Like with PS NOW and Plus, and even timed platform exclusives, not everything has to end up as a "good vs. evil" binary choice.
Mohandevir 20 March 2019 at 1:49 pm UTC
Salvatos
ShabbyXRegarding Google and data, believe me, Google is the farthest from evil.
You mean among its likes? Or in absolute terms?

Facebook, maybe? Are we all Facebook free here? I'm not even sure being Facebook free is enough, anyway. It seems they have other means to get our data.

Edit: This said, not going to say that Google is the good guy. Just saying that the war for the protection of our personnal informations seems to be lost, imo. I'm not ok with that and it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be careful about that either, but that's how it is. The only real solution is to be disconnected from the internet and, thus, become some kind of alienated creature. ;)


Last edited by Mohandevir at 20 March 2019 at 2:08 pm UTC
ShabbyX 20 March 2019 at 2:14 pm UTC
Shmerl
fabertaweIt'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.

It will be the only way to play games through Stadia, i.e. they aren't offering downloads. So it is DRMed.

Like I said, please think about what _you_ would have done if you were the lead of Stadia. Being large-distributed-data-center-based, how could you ensure that games that are built for that scale could run on a PC? Besides, you are not buying games individually to play on Stadia (if you did, yes your concern would be totally valid). If you pay a 10$ subscription fee, you can't expect to be able to download and play every game Stadia offers outside of it as if you owned all of them.

If 15 years ago they described Netflix, there would have probably been similar reactions: "Can't own the movie anymore. I can only watch on Netflix. That's bad". But here we are, and I don't care at all if I don't have the DVD to something I once watched on Netflix and moved on.

I have a library of ~200 games on steam, and honestly I have rarely ever went back to any of them after one playthrough. I think this is less of a DRM issue and more of a paradigm shift from people buying games individually to subscription-based play-whatever-you-want-without-having-to-buy-it-first-and-return-if-shitty. I don't think Google is actively trying to implement DRM in Stadia. As I see firsthand at Google, we are all trying to build amazing stuff, and have little time for bullshit like that.
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