Google has a new project in the works, Project Stream, and if it’s successful, it could change the way we think about access to core gaming. The service puts Google’s cloud computing power to use by allowing gamers to play streaming versions of highly demanding video games on any device with an Internet connection.
The first test allows gamers to play the latest version of Assassin’s Creed, dubbed Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey. Project Stream processes the game on Google servers and sends the visuals for the game to the gamer’s device, just like Netflix streaming except in this case the gamer is sending signals back to the game with his or her controller. For a great experience, the responsiveness of Project Stream needs to be perfect... and it pretty much is.
The technology is incredibly smooth. It doesn’t offer 4K gaming or stereo sound, but even 1080p gameplay with mono sound is incredibly impressive when you’re playing a game that requires powerful hardware on a device as rudimentary as a Chromebook.
The Future of Gaming is Streamed
Rumors of the next generation of consoles are revolving around streamed gameplay. The next Xbox, the next PlayStation most likely won’t require gamers to have discs or download games. Instead, they’ll pay to access games on remote servers that are streamed to their screens.
Project Stream is the first of much more.
Gaming for Everyone
Just like mobile devices made casual gaming mainstream, this will do the same for core gaming—a category that’s already in the midst of a renaissance as developers push what games can do narratively, graphically and with interactivity.
What Google’s doing was envisioned by a service called OnLive nearly a decade ago, but it was ahead of its time. Now, as Internet connectivity has expanded, connections have gotten faster and 5G is nearly upon us, game streaming is about to have its moment for several reasons.
Game streaming requires no hardware. There are no new consoles to purchase, no new technology to pay attention to. You have a screen. You have a connection. You’re good to go. The tech barrier will almost entirely disappear, meaning potential gamers don’t need to be or feel educated about what to get. If they want to play, they can jump in and play.
All of this happens without compromise. Sure, Project Stream has some limitations and it currently isn’t replicating playing a game from a console exactly. But it’s close, and it’ll get closer. And as it gets closer, gamers will know they’re playing on the most powerful consoles ever—super computers housed offsite that always have the latest specs.
Netflix showed us that when on-demand entertainment is made available, the masses will come. Project Stream and services like it are poised to do the same when it comes to gaming.
There are questions. How does revenue work? Is this a subscription model? Is Google, a major tech player that launches and abandons experiments (e.g., Google Fiber) at its whim, the right company to bring on the advent of this technology? There’s a lot to figure out, but game streaming is now more reality than possibility.