We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream. Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more.
Game streaming usually means support for multiple devices, given the backend hosts the actual game processing itself. Stadia is no different, with support for a variety for products including PCs, phones, tablet, and TVs (smart or otherwise via products such as Google's Chromecast). The current limitation is support for Google's Chrome browser, although Google mentioned that they are working to support other browsers as well. Most controllers as well as the keyboard + mouse combination, and Google is also bringing out a dedicated Stadia controller for those who prefer first-party support. The Stadia controller will come in three color options, is reminiscent of the XBOX controller, and connects via WiFi directly to the game being streamed. It also has a dedicated capture button to share content on YouTube, as well as a Google Assistant button to access the built-in mic for, well, Google Assistant. The backend is no doubt critical here, with Google promising over 7500 nodes around the world to combat latency as best as possible. Each node, or Stadia instance as they are calling it, uses datacenters comprising multiple racks filled with custom hardware developed in collaboration with AMD. The hardware includes a GPU providing 10.7 TFlops compute (based on AMD's Vega microarchitecture, presumably), a custom x86 processor clocked at 2.7 GHz with hyperthreading, and 16 GB of RAM, which all pair together to provide a single node well more powerful than the Sony PS4 Pro or the Microsoft XBOX One X- even combined. But raw numbers mean little if developers can't optimize for it, however, and this will no doubt be a challenge. Google is promising a massive improvement in gameplay experience with Stadia, going from the up to 1080p/60 FPS/stereo sound setup from Project Stream to 4K/60 FPS/HDR/surround sound at launch with Stadia, and further improvements targeting 8K gameplay in the futur