Google has unveiled a new cloud-based gaming platform, Stadia, which will let people play games across a variety of different devices, as well as a new controller.
The technology giant announced its foray into the gaming sphere, which is likely to make waves in the industry and may create new opportunities for game developers and designers, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, US, earlier this week.
Stadia, which will launch later this year in countries including the UK and the US, will let players access games via the internet through televisions, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, Google says.
The streaming platform, which has been likened to a “Netflix for games”, is aimed at both players and gaming video makers publishing to YouTube, which is also owned by Google.
People viewing gaming videos on YouTube will be able to switch from watching to playing a range of games through the click of a button, Google says, without the need to download or install any data or software.
The new platform aims to stream high quality games, which have traditionally been played on video game consoles, available on almost all types of screens in resolutions as high as 4K (4,000 pixels) at 60 frames per second, with surround sound, the company says.
New games are set to be created for the platform — the founder of developer Q-Games, Dylan Cuthbert, revealed during the San Francisco launch event that the studio will be creating a title for the platform, but did not unveil details about what it will include.
It is not yet clear whether Google will develop its own games for Stadia, in a similar way to Netflix-produced films.
It is not yet known how Stadia will affect the digital and game design industry, but some professionals in the field believe the impact will only be significant once new games are released specifically for the platform.
Head of development at design and engineering studio Dare, Massimiliano Vallascas, does not believe the announcement will change the process game makers follow.
“We don’t know the details yet, but cross-platform play should just be a matter of scaling the resolution and dimensions,” he says.
“However, we’ll have to wait until new games that have been developed exclusively for Stadia are rolled out before we see any real difference or impact,” he adds.
He says it will be interesting to see how the platform overcomes potential “teething problems”, like “streaming games on connections that are not dedicated” such as public wifi networks and those that are not high speed.
“If it’s not high definition 100% of the time, that could put players off,” he adds.
Google has also revealed a new controller to go with the platform, which is white with black buttons and has an orange base on each of its two analogue thumbsticks.
Controllers will be directly connected to wifi and include buttons to take screenshots of gameplay and share them on YouTube.
Controllers will also have in-built microphones and will work with artificial intelligence (AI) software Google Assistant, which responds to voice commands.
It has been confirmed that Doom Eternal, made by developer ID Software, will be among the first games to be available on the platform.
The upcoming first-person shooter, in which players take on the role of a warrior battling demonic forces, will also be available on traditional games consoles including PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One.
Google has not yet revealed the price of Stadia or whether players will have to pay per game or sign up to a subscription service.
But the move could impact the gaming industry, which has traditionally relied on costly games consoles and game titles, if it introduces a subscription service as an alternative.