At the Game Developers Conference, Google unveiled its exciting vision for the future of video games: a cloud streaming service called Stadia, which gives instant access to play games across Chromebooks, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. In other words, it’s a platform that is accessible through devices you may already own, and it will be compatible with keyboards and other input devices you might have, too. However, Google will also release its own proprietary Stadia controller, and now we know what it looks like and how it works. In short, it’s a big deal, and there is a lot to know about it.
The Stadia controller was shown off at GDC in three different color schemes. It connects to Google’s servers through Wi-Fi, and it identifies what screen you want to play on. In addition to the standard array of inputs, it also features two unique buttons: one allows you to capture gameplay and share and save it to YouTube, while the other is a Google Assistant button, which accesses the controller’s built-in microphone to get gameplay advice. And in a fun reference, the back of the controller is home to the Konami Code.
The streaming tech behind Stadia is the same that powered the Project Stream test that ran last year, when Google partnered with Ubisoft to stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for free through a Chrome browser. The company has made other big moves into the video game space, recently hiring Jade Raymond, best known for her work at Ubisoft and EA. Raymond will head up Stadia Games and Entertainment, a new first-party studio that will develop games exclusively for Stadia.
Stadia will launch later this year. It’ll be available first in the US, Canada, the UK, and “most of Europe.” Google hasn’t shared any pricing details for the service or its controller, but it promises to reveal more information this summer, including what games will be available at launch “and beyond.”
One key detail we don’t know beyond specific pricing is how you’ll buy games–will they be available through a subscription or like a standard game purchase? That remains to be seen, though we know Doom Eternal is coming to Stadia. Odyssey was also featured prominently during the GDC keynote. Ubisoft, the publisher of the latter, seems to be a big supported of Stadia, and when we spoke with CEO Yves Guillemot at GDC, he suggested there could be multiple ways to buy Stadia games.
For more on cloud gaming, check out how cloud gaming works and read up on the companies investing heavily in the cloud. Be sure to catch up on all of the Google Stadia gaming news from today’s GDC event.