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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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silmeth 21 March 2019 at 11:39 am UTC
Three years ago I had a solid symmetric ~300 Mbps connection (I actually measured 291 download and 415 upload, sic! – during that time I might have had been the best individual Kubuntu live DVDs seeder out there…). Today that ISP delivers symmetric 700 Mbps for ~$9.50/month. Unfortunately I moved to another city district and had to change ISP to a much worse one.

Today I have 120 Mbps down / 12 Mbps up, I don’t saturate it most of the time, but when I do download something, that 120 Mbps is real. I have no problems with simultaneous torrent download and two HD Netflix streams running in my house Friday evening… The situation outside of bigger cities is much worse (often no optical fibers available, so DSL or mobile ISPs only).

You are right that I have no idea what would happen if all other users started really saturating the link at the same time. I believe none of my neighbours, besides me, really ever used that ~300 Mbps network back then. But then – how many people will use game streaming simultaneously? If Youtube + Netflix (and Amazon, and HBO Go, etc.) + some people torrenting don’t seem to generate any problems today, I don’t think a game streaming service would change it much, but maybe I am underestimating its impact.
ShabbyX 21 March 2019 at 12:58 pm UTC
ShmerlExactly my point. Let me repeat what I said above already to answer ShabbyX how such thing could be implemented DRM-free, since the answer was swallowed with all this pointless claiming that Stadia isn't DRMed:

To be clear, I'm not pro-DRM. Some points in your argument are valid, but did you watch the presentation? I think the point you missed when answering my question is that Stadia, being server-based has capabilities you *can't* get on your PC. If you have a squad of 6 people, there will be a huge strain on your network to stream their views while playing. Very-large-scale multiplayer will also have issues. It's not the GPU they use that makes Stadia special (not at all). It's the fact that instances of a multiplayer game talk through Google's internet backbone.

And your idea that you can buy a game, and have the option to stream it at a cost would be nice. Feel free to suggest it, who knows maybe it gets implemented at some point.


Last edited by ShabbyX at 21 March 2019 at 1:04 pm UTC
Shmerl 21 March 2019 at 3:02 pm UTC
ShabbyXTo be clear, I'm not pro-DRM. Some points in your argument are valid, but did you watch the presentation? I think the point you missed when answering my question is that Stadia, being server-based has capabilities you *can't* get on your PC. If you have a squad of 6 people, there will be a huge strain on your network to stream their views while playing. Very-large-scale multiplayer will also have issues. It's not the GPU they use that makes Stadia special (not at all). It's the fact that instances of a multiplayer game talk through Google's internet backbone.

Sure, having a massive backend has its benefits. I think Stadia can be useful for some multiplayer games specifically (isn't it hinted in the name Stadia itself?), like MMORPGs and the like where server backend is essential. For such games to be fully preservable, it's not enough to just buy the game anyway, the server code must be open source, so it could be run independently. That's not so often found in MMORPGs. I.e. most of them are closed anyway, so service like Stadia doesn't really change things much for them in this regard.

ShabbyXAnd your idea that you can buy a game, and have the option to stream it at a cost would be nice. Feel free to suggest it, who knows maybe it gets implemented at some point.

Any recommendation to whom send such proposal? Google isn't exactly known to be very open to external communication. I don't mind sending a suggestion, as long as it won't go to some usual stone wall of support.
etonbears 21 March 2019 at 3:15 pm UTC
Sir_Diealot
etonbearsFor 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.

Oh don't you worry, it won't be long until the first game can't be run on a desktop machine anymore and it will be a point of pride for the developer. The resource demand will scale with the available resources, so unless Google puts a hefty price tag on that they'll soon have a serious issue on their hands.

Yes, exactly. They are genuinely offering the development community something different, but whether it will be affordable, and when a sufficient audience will have the required network characteristics are still questions to be answered.
etonbears 21 March 2019 at 3:21 pm UTC
NeptNutz
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."

Which is one argument against net neutrality - you can't guarantee the quality of service you think you are paying for.
Shmerl 21 March 2019 at 3:23 pm UTC
etonbearsWhich is one argument against net neutrality - you can't guarantee the quality of service you think you are paying for.

Network congestion due to load is not an argument against net neutrality. Net neutrality is about preventing deliberate traffic discrimination (such as for anti-competitive purposes). Managing the network due to congestion is fine according to the concept of net neutrality. Mind you, something like data caps is not a network management tool, it's users fleecing, anti-competitive trash. Limiting bandwidth when network is overloaded though is a legitimate network managing technique.


Last edited by Shmerl at 21 March 2019 at 3:28 pm UTC
Mohandevir 21 March 2019 at 3:35 pm UTC
... Like, let's say AT&T decides to launch it's own game streaming service and begins throttling all traffic going to and from Google Stadia. This is what Net Neutrality is worried about.
Shmerl 21 March 2019 at 3:36 pm UTC
Mohandevir... Like, let's say AT&T decides to launch it's own game streaming service and begins throttling all traffic going to and from Google Stadia. This is what Net Neutrality is worried about.

Or more likely, it won't count their service against their obnoxious data caps, while counting Stadia and others.

Which in the Stadia context brings the questinon, why did Google throw in the towel with their Google Fiber? They should have invested in it even more instead of abandoning, showing that services like Stadia could work when ISP is built the right way.


Last edited by Shmerl at 21 March 2019 at 3:38 pm UTC
x_wing 21 March 2019 at 4:01 pm UTC
ShmerlWhich in the Stadia context brings the questinon, why did Google throw in the towel with their Google Fiber? They should have invested in it even more instead of abandoning, showing that services like Stadia could work when ISP is built the right way.

In the presentation, they stated that they will have backbone that directly connects the ISPs gateways to the Stadia servers (probably this will be the magic/requirement for the "low latency" experience). So, on that scenario there is no way at which an ISP can add the Stadia data usage to your data cap limitation.
Nevertheless 21 March 2019 at 4:02 pm UTC
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Shmerl
ShabbyXTo be clear, I'm not pro-DRM. Some points in your argument are valid, but did you watch the presentation? I think the point you missed when answering my question is that Stadia, being server-based has capabilities you *can't* get on your PC. If you have a squad of 6 people, there will be a huge strain on your network to stream their views while playing. Very-large-scale multiplayer will also have issues. It's not the GPU they use that makes Stadia special (not at all). It's the fact that instances of a multiplayer game talk through Google's internet backbone.

Sure, having a massive backend has its benefits. I think Stadia can be useful for some multiplayer games specifically (isn't it hinted in the name Stadia itself?), like MMORPGs and the like where server backend is essential. For such games to be fully preservable, it's not enough to just buy the game anyway, the server code must be open source, so it could be run independently. That's not so often found in MMORPGs. I.e. most of them are closed anyway, so service like Stadia doesn't really change things much for them in this regard.

ShabbyXAnd your idea that you can buy a game, and have the option to stream it at a cost would be nice. Feel free to suggest it, who knows maybe it gets implemented at some point.

Any recommendation to whom send such proposal? Google isn't exactly known to be very open to external communication. I don't mind sending a suggestion, as long as it won't go to some usual stone wall of support.

That is something that could be picked up by Valve one day! Ok.. at second thought, maybe not DRM free most of the time I guess...
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