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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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Mohandevir 20 March 2019 at 7:23 pm UTC
eldaking
MohandevirBut Stadia doesn't rent you games. It sells a monthly access to their game library. You totally have the right to think otherwise and not be interrested in that kind of service, but sorry, I just don't get your point.

Where does games with subscription services like WoW or EQ stands, in your logic? Might help me figure it out.

I'm completely fine with "monthly access" so long as you can download the game and run it on your computer, with all the implications: you can make a backup, you can play offline, you can modify the game, you can stop it from calling home using a firewall, etc. After the month ends, you no longer can download the game, you can't play it on the cloud, you can't get any other games. You might even be legally/contractually obligated to uninstall and not play after this time (though this is obviously unenforceable, I'm fine with doing it); I would not be ok with "destroying all copies", for preservation reasons.

Subscriptions are not a problem per se. In an MMO, or a multiplayer game in general, it makes sense that you would pay to use the game servers and the associated social environment. You don't even need DRM in this case - you could theoretically run the game at home DRM-free, but it makes sense to pay for a subscription to gain access to this feature. (I mean, in an ideal world where games are FOSS, you would also have access to the server software and you could self-host a game server instead of the developer's subscription being the only option, but this is ok enough.)

What is much more plausible is an all access subscription plan for the streaming service doubled with a buying option if you want to download and keep the game. You could do both at the same time. Steam is probably much inclined to offer such a thing and I'd find that awesome.
Shmerl 20 March 2019 at 7:30 pm UTC
MohandevirWhat is much more plausible is an all access subscription plan for the streaming service doubled with a buying option if you want to download and keep the game. You could do both at the same time. Steam is probably much inclined to offer such a thing and I'd find that awesome.

Exactly, as described above:
https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/google-announce-stadia-their-new-cloud-gaming-service-built-on-linux-and-vulkan.13792/comment_id=150924

I.e. there can be three options. One to buy a DRM-free game, two to stream the games you bought (for a monthly fee), and three to stream any game in the store without buying (renting, for a higher monthly fee). Such kind of store should be sustainable and DRM-free.

As of now, Stadia just offers #3.


Last edited by Shmerl at 20 March 2019 at 7:31 pm UTC
Mohandevir 20 March 2019 at 7:43 pm UTC
Shmerl
MohandevirWhat is much more plausible is an all access subscription plan for the streaming service doubled with a buying option if you want to download and keep the game. You could do both at the same time. Steam is probably much inclined to offer such a thing and I'd find that awesome.

Exactly, as described above:
https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/google-announce-stadia-their-new-cloud-gaming-service-built-on-linux-and-vulkan.13792/comment_id=150924

I.e. there can be three options. One to buy a DRM-free game, two to stream the games you bought (for a monthly fee), and three to stream any game in the store without buying (renting, for a higher monthly fee). Such kind of store should be sustainable and DRM-free.

As of now, Stadia just offers #3.

Sorry! This thread is too short... Missed your previous comment.
Nevertheless 20 March 2019 at 7:55 pm UTC
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Shmerl
NeverthelessThere won't be any games to buy there. And if those games are not availlable anywhere else that's either bad luck or they are exclusive deals, which are bad for another reason...

Exactly the points why this is not a good thing from DRM-free availability standpoint, and it's a trend in the wrong direction.

Only that I don't see streaming as evil. Not that I prefer it over owning, but there are quite some positive effects for Linux, and I probably would use it in rare cases, if it weren't for the datamining, and if the game in question was not part of an exclusive deal. That's more an evil to me.
Ketil 20 March 2019 at 8:12 pm UTC
If you don't know if you will like a game, I think streaming is a great option. I definitely won't download a 50GB game for a free weekend, but I would be willing to stream it. You will obviously need audio and video codecs suited for real time, and I expect you will want a smaller buffer than most live video today use. This will probably cost something in terms of graphical glitches during playback, but I do believe it can be done. A new video codec might be required for a great experience though. You will obviously never be able to reduce the input lag to below the ping, but assuming your uplink is reliable enough, and has enough capacity I don't think you will have to multiply your ping by much.

As others have mentioned, this could bring great games to low-performance laptops. Additionally, I do think it will be more efficient to have high-quality hardware for a fraction of the users, rather than regular quality for all users. Say I play 2 hours a day and that I use a GTX 1060 today. I would expect there would be benefits sharing a single RTX 2080 with 11 other people, rather than giving each their own 1060 that is idling most of the time. If the company is global, and people from all over the world are using it, then you can reduce the idling quite a bit without compromising the quality of service. Taking into account that not all games require the best hardware, you could share hardware for the less demanding games without degrading the service too much, reducing the total costs even more.

All in all, I don't think this service will be good enough for hardcore gamers who are willing to spend a lot of money on new hardware, but it could bring more games to the casual gamer growing the gaming industry.
Shmerl 20 March 2019 at 9:20 pm UTC
Some details on Stadia's hardware: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/google-amd-custom-gpu-stadia-gaming,38865.html

They are using Vega based GPUs.


Last edited by Shmerl at 21 March 2019 at 3:14 pm UTC
Sir_Diealot 20 March 2019 at 9:30 pm UTC
KetilIf you don't know if you will like a game, I think streaming is a great option. I definitely won't download a 50GB game for a free weekend, but I would be willing to stream it. You will obviously need audio and video codecs suited for real time, and I expect you will want a smaller buffer than most live video today use. This will probably cost something in terms of graphical glitches during playback, but I do believe it can be done. A new video codec might be required for a great experience though. You will obviously never be able to reduce the input lag to below the ping, but assuming your uplink is reliable enough, and has enough capacity I don't think you will have to multiply your ping by much.

So you are not willing to download 50 GB for a weekend but to download 50 GB for two hours of streaming?

Oh and don't worry guys, I'm sure Google has more plans than just data collection, oh no.
This is going to be an entirely new advertisement platform. Your games will become billboards, just like web pages are today.
Klaas 20 March 2019 at 9:38 pm UTC
Sir_DiealotSo you are not willing to download 50 GB for a weekend but to download 50 GB for two hours of streaming?

If we consider the 25 Mbit/s estimate from a few pages back and 8 hours playing time, you would require approximately 88 GB of traffic. That's insane.
silmeth 20 March 2019 at 9:58 pm UTC
Sir_DiealotSo you are not willing to download 50 GB for a weekend but to download 50 GB for two hours of streaming?

Oh and don't worry guys, I'm sure Google has more plans than just data collection, oh no.
This is going to be an entirely new advertisement platform. Your games will become billboards, just like web pages are today.

I would. Cause that’s 50 GB (well, more like 20 GB for two hours, if 25 Mb/s is true) during playing, without waiting for 50 GB to download up front. That’s just more convenient.

If Steam provided a game streaming service, then I would totally use it for the free-weekend games to try them before buying. Now, even though I have somehow OK-ish transfer (~120 Mb/s down) I mostly ignore them – because of the download wait and needed cleaning afterwards if I decide I don’t like them.

I like very much the idea of streaming-as-a-demo and streaming to allow one to play on less powerful hardware. I did enjoy OnLive because of that when it launched.

(On the other hand I’m not sure if I’m ever gonna use Stadia – I don’t game enough to pay regular subscription, I’m against exclusives which it will supposedly have, and it seems at least initially it won’t be available in Poland – seems I’m not in the most of Europe ;-).)


Last edited by silmeth at 20 March 2019 at 10:00 pm UTC
Sir_Diealot 20 March 2019 at 10:16 pm UTC
silmeth
Sir_DiealotSo you are not willing to download 50 GB for a weekend but to download 50 GB for two hours of streaming?

Oh and don't worry guys, I'm sure Google has more plans than just data collection, oh no.
This is going to be an entirely new advertisement platform. Your games will become billboards, just like web pages are today.

I would. Cause that’s 50 GB (well, more like 20 GB for two hours, if 25 Mb/s is true) during playing, without waiting for 50 GB to download up front. That’s just more convenient.

Yeah I didn't do the math before, it should be about 11 GB per hour. That's still plenty, way more than you'd need for a regular online multiplayer game and it will be needed even for single player games. The longer you play, the worse it gets, 5 hours and you've used up more bandwidth than the 50 GB download.
Other services like Steam are also wasting huge amounts of bandwidth (always update everything by default), but this is something else.

And then you'll have to ask yourself what for?
I see a lot of benefits for Google (total control, data collection platform, ad delivery platform).
I see mostly drawbacks for the user.
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