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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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Purple Library Guy 20 March 2019 at 10:27 pm UTC
Klaas
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.
I'd be starting to pay my ISP extra awfully fast.
Ketil 20 March 2019 at 11:18 pm UTC
Sir_Diealot
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.
I have multiple games I have bought with less than 2 hours of playtime. I'd say 15-30 minutes is enough to decide if I want to download it.

I don't know which video codec they are using, but I wouldn't be surprised if they choose AV1. The 25Mb/s figure is slightly higher than what the Wikipedia page of AV1 codec says 1920x1080@60 on main profile should be, but if you are bandwidth limited, then you should be able to reduce to a lower resolution and rate to reduce it significantly.

According to those AV1 figures it actually looks like their 4K alternative at 30 Mb/s is 3840x2160@30fps, while their 25Mb/s figure is for 1920x1080@60, or possibly an older version of it. AV1 can scale down the resolution quite a bit if you are bandwidth limited, although I suppose most games are unplayable before you reach the lowest resolutions.
vector 20 March 2019 at 11:27 pm UTC
please_use_plain_text
elmapul
please_use_plain_text"Streaming is the worst DRM ever made, you don't own your games and you're screwed if a publisher want to remove a game (music licensing issue for example)

they can replace the soundtrack, but i would hate that option too

Not sure publishers bother to spend money to replace a soundtrack on an old game which doesn't bring in much money anymore. I don't remember which games but it has happened before.
The only instance that readily comes to mind of a game being re-released which previously had licensing (expiration) issues is Mafia (aka Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven). The music that played on the car radio (https://youtu.be/HMVPexp77uk?t=182) was at issue, and the game was re-released without it.

Usually when games run into licensing issues (e.g. Blade Runner*, The Godfather saga, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth** saga, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions***, etc.), they are lost forever in terms of being able to be acquired legally, outside of the boxed copy, merchant reseller market.

That doesn't even begin to address all the games that didn't have licensing issues, but which were abandoned without having source code escrows, and therefore also can't be obtained legally (beyond old retail copies floating around, which can have scratched discs or be overpriced, if they are available at all).

---
*Westwood Studios' Blade Runner was never was available via digital distribution, and likely never will be due to licensing issues. Excluding completed wishes, it's currently the ninth most requested title on GOG.com's community wishlist.
**Only The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king was ever available via digital distribution, but again, licensing issues will likely keep any Battle for Middle-earth games from being re-released.
***Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was re-released on Steam, but it was pulled again after a period of two years.


Last edited by vector at 21 March 2019 at 12:25 am UTC
NeptNutz 20 March 2019 at 11:30 pm UTC
eldakingAfter 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)
Holy cow! I remember this exact thing with GameFly (previously Direct2Drive) when I rented a few console discs but also downloaded Deus Ex to play on PC.

Honestly, I don't remember how that copy of Deus Ex and I parted ways, but it is interesting to note that GameFly got out of the PC blob downloading business just as fast as they got in.
please_use_plain_text 21 March 2019 at 12:08 am UTC
please_use_plain_text 21 March 2019 at 12:26 am UTC
vectorThe only instance that readily comes to mind of a game being re-released which previously had licensing (expiration) issues is Mafia (aka Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven). The music that played on the car radio (https://youtu.be/HMVPexp77uk?t=182) was at issue, and the game was re-released without it.
Maybe the game I heard of with this kind of issue was Dirt Showdown, but definitely not sure, maybe i'm wrong. I know some GTA had this kind of issue too, but Rockstar removed these musics
NeptNutz 21 March 2019 at 1:39 am UTC
please_use_plain_textMaybe the game I heard of with this kind of issue was Dirt Showdown, but definitely not sure, maybe i'm wrong. I know some GTA had this kind of issue too, but Rockstar removed these musics
Indeed, this is where DRM sucks sweaty, hairy, dirty, greasy, stinky, and nasty balls!

https://www.pcgamer.com/grand-theft-auto-san-andreas-steam-update-removes-songs-resolution-options/

HAHAHA! If anyone wants to remove the "Hot Coffee" disc from my PS2, they will have to take it from my cold, dead hands.

etonbears 21 March 2019 at 1:50 am UTC
For me, the interesting implication of Stadia is its ability to change the supply side. The Steam survey shows that the average PC gamer does not have particularly good hardware, and this actually limits developers in what they can do and still address a large enough purchase market.

If Stadia has nodes with Vega56 GPUs as a minimum, and allows arbitrary combining of nodes to produce output, then the complexity of what developers may produce for Stadia can scale very quickly to the point that you actually could NOT run it on any normally available desktop hardware, let alone the average rig, making traditional sales of such games redundant. That may be why the new Google game studio is suggesting their titles will be exclusive to Stadia.

Of course, however amazing their back-end might be, Google still need to get the right price model, overcome the possible network limitations and avoid their normal habit of turning everything into advertising revenue.
mylka 21 March 2019 at 2:04 am UTC
Klaas
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.

wasnt division2 day one patch 92GB?

i dont get the traffic "problem". i watch a lot of netflix and youtube. i already have 700+GB traffic each month
since stadia is just streaming a video nothing would change

but i waint and see. i dont think it will replace consoles and pcs anytime soon.
i guess it will be very expensive and if it isnt much cheaper, than my PC, then it makes no sense to me (i wouldnt play games on small screens like a phone)
NeptNutz 21 March 2019 at 2:13 am UTC
etonbearsIf Stadia has nodes with Vega56 GPUs as a minimum, and allows arbitrary combining of nodes to produce output, then the complexity of what developers may produce for Stadia can scale very quickly to the point that you actually could NOT run it on any normally available desktop hardware, let alone the average rig, making traditional sales of such games redundant.
This was part of the Stadia presentation as it referred to water effects. I must say (latency, pixel-crush, and streaming slideshows aside), some of the things I have witnessed with game streaming (read rack-server RAID) are pretty darn impressive! I distinctly remember Lord of the Rings: War in the North loading and playing orders of magnitude faster in OnLive than on my Steam rig at the time, especially with friends.

Unfortunately, however, come Friday night ... the bandwidths are all "Netflix and Chill."
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