Google aims to disrupt video games with streaming

Google on Tuesday set out to disrupt the world of video games with its Stadia platform. — Reuters pic
Google on Tuesday set out to disrupt the world of video games with its Stadia platform. — Reuters pic

SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 ­— Google yesterday set out to disrupt the world of video games with a Stadia platform aimed at putting its massive data centre power in game maker’s hands and letting people play blockbuster titles from any device they wish.

The California-based technology giant said its Stadia platform will open to gamers later this year.

For now, Google is focused on working with game makers to tailor titles for play on Stadia and even announced its own game studio.

“We are on the brink of a huge revolution in gaming,” Stadia Games and Entertainment head Jade Raymond said at a Google presentation at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

“We are committed to going down a bold path.”

The Stadia tech platform aims to connect more people to participate in interactive play on PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices.

Google also unveiled a new controller that can be used to play cloud-based individual or multiplayer games.

Chief executive Sundar Pichai said the initiative is “to build a game platform for everyone.”

“I think we can change the game by bringing together the entirety of the ecosystem,” Pichai told a keynote presentation.

Google said it had provided the technology to more than 100 game developers and would launch its service in the US, Canada and Europe later this year.

Its game service will be headed by Raymond, a former Ubisoft and Electronic Arts executive.

As it produces its own games, Google will also be courting other studios to move to its cloud-based model.

At the developers conference, Google demonstrated speedy fast cloud-based play on a variety of devices. But it offered no specific details on how it would monetize the new service or compensate developers.

Ubisoft on board

Ubisoft, the French game studio known for Assassin’s Creed and other titles, said it would be working with Google.

“The power and accessibility of streaming will give billions unprecedented opportunities to play video games in the future,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft.

“We are proud to partner with Google ... we can’t wait to continue collaborating closely with Google on what’s next for Stadia.”

As part of a pilot project, Google collaborated with French video game colossus Ubisoft to use the hit “Assassin’s Creed” franchise to test “Project Stream” technology for hosting the kind of quick, seamless play powered by in-home consoles as an online service.

The move comes as video games are following television and music into the cloud, with console-quality play on its way to being a streaming service as easy to access as Netflix or Spotify.

Yet it remains unclear how much Google can grab of the massive industry.

The US video game industry generated a record US$43.4 billion (RM176.94) in revenue in 2018, up 18 per cent from the prior year, according to data released by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and The NPD Group. — AFP