Google will be great fun next week, but we still do not know what that means. For years, the company has toyed with the idea of engaging in today's largest entertainment industry, which was worth an estimated $ 138 billion last fall. And it would be competitive: Amazon owns Twitch, Facebook buys Oculus, and Microsoft has Xbox. The only other major tech company without a serious gaming platform or its own investment, excluding mobile app stores, is Apple, although even the iPhone maker is supposedly working on its own game subscription service.
Google has always had many of the parts needed to challenge Sony and Nintendo. The Android operating system is the most widely used mobile software for smartphones in the world, while the Chrome browser and Chromecast streaming platform give the company an easy way to run applications in real time and access TVs. It's not hard to imagine an Android or browser-based game service that lets you play advanced software on a living room TV.
But so far, we have only a few clues as to what Google may build. This changes Tuesday next week when Google wants to hold its first keynote address at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. There has been a lot of news in the last few months that gives us a good idea of what's to come, but whatever Google has announced could have an impact on an industry that is changing the way games are developed, distributed and distributed. Here is an overview of what we know so far and what we think about coming next week.
It's most likely associated with cloud games.
At the GDC keynote, Google said it would reveal its "vision for the future of gambling" reports and public presentations by the company itself, it is very likely that the announcement includes a full-fledged cloud gaming service. More than a year ago The information first reported on Google's Project Yeti, the codename of an internal department responsible for building a next generation streaming service of existing but limited options such as Sony's PlayStation Now and Nvidia's GeForce Now is similar.
Even before the services of Sony and Nvidia existed, cloud gaming was a bit of the sacred grail of the industry: an ideal that few startups like OnLive, Gaikai and others are concerned with, but it has never been cracked because the infrastructure and the economy were not fully understood.
The concept is relatively simple. What if, like Netflix and Spotify, you could not only digitally distribute games, but also stream them over the Internet, so players do not need expensive hardware to play graphically intense titles? It's difficult because unlike other media types, games are incredibly large and require real-time player input. But it can be done by wiring the necessary hardware in a data center, running the game on a remote machine, sending the video, and receiving player commands over the Internet.
Regardless, it is impressive how many more companies have uncovered cloud gaming services in recent years and found out from a former experimental niche attempt in an industry-wide race for the future. Microsoft went public with its own game streaming platform, XCloud, which will begin testing later this year. Following the acquisition of the rental and cloud game service GameFly, EA is now working on a separate product called Project Atlas. Even Verizon entered the game with Nvidia Shield set-top box testing service. Earlier this week, Valve expanded its Steam Link service to become a personal cloud gaming app. Amazon and Nintendo are also investigating the technology.
There are some obvious signs that Google is actually working on the technology. Above all, Google has released the public test of Project Stream, an experimental streaming technology for games that works directly in their Chrome browser. Partnering with Ubisoft allows you to play the brand new Assassin's Creed Odyssey with Google – without having to buy the game – on pretty much any machine, assuming you had a strong internet connection.
It was a remarkable experiment, not only because it worked really well, but also because a game room is as big as Ubisoft, allowing one of its biggest novelties of the year to be a test object. The test is over, but Google's goal is to collect data from a "technical test" that is considered a "technical test to solve some of the biggest challenges in streaming." Data that could help inform the product, which will be announced next week.
Over the last 18 months, there have also been many strategic attitudes that point to a large, legitimate push into the gambling industry. Phil Harrison, a longtime manager of Sony and Microsoft's Xbox team, joined Google last year as general manager and vice president, but worked in a disclosed position. At the time, it was believed that Harrison would help Google expand its virtual and augmented reality platforms into viable gaming companies. Harrison was also on the board of game streaming company Gaikai, a Sony-acquired company in 2012 that was instrumental in launching the PlayStation Now service. It's likely that Harrison supports Google in its similar efforts.
Later that year, Google hired Jack Buser, a senior director of Sony's Game Streaming division, and previously led the social efforts of the PlayStation platform. Shortly after, Google also hired Richard Marks, senior research engineer at Sony, to help build the PlayStation VR headset and Move controller.
I'm pleased to finally announce that I joined Google as VP.
– Jade Raymond (@ibjade) March 12, 2019
And just last week, Jade dealt with the gaming industry Raymond also came to Google as vice president, although we do not know which team or which department will lead you. The timing can not be random. Raymond, who was the executive producer and co-creator of Assassin's Creed from Ubisoft and later moved to Electronic Arts, could be a creative department at Google or a developer-development person connecting with them large studios entertains and publishers.
There is a hardware component and Chromecast may be required.
We do not have much to say about what this service might look like, but we know there is one. It is very likely that custom Google hardware is involved. Rick Osterloh, Google's head of hardware and senior vice president of devices, released a link to the GDC keynote earlier this week:
Osterloh oversees pixel phones, Google Home devices, and the numerous other hardware products that the search giant Whether this means we're getting a cloud gaming console with Pixel branding or something else is unclear. However, it is interesting to see how Osterloh is involved in some way. Jason Schreier of Kotaku who confirmed many of the first details about Google's upcoming service last summer, reported that hardware will be one of the three major components of the service, with the other two being streaming services and a massive deployment become development department, which sounds very much after the game of Raymond.
If we had to speculate on what exactly a Google game streaming platform looks like, we do not have to look too hard. This is because it might at least partially exist as a Chromecast. Google's Streaming dongle lets you play Android games through a compatible smartphone using the screen mirroring on your TV.
That does not mean this new platform for streaming games will play a minor role in Chromecast. Chromecast, however, provides a model of how Google will deliver gaming experiences to a TV. Firstly, it is a no-frills package that connects via a connection and does not get in the way. And since cloud games like media streaming do not require a lot of local compute power, the hardware can be light and inexpensive. Given the amount of Google Google creates here, it seems more likely that completely new hardware will be set up specifically for gaming.
There may be a game controller.
You can not have console-quality gaming (if that's really what Google is suggesting) without some sort of peripheral device. For Google, that means building your own controller. According to a patent leaked last week, this could be exactly what the company did, with images showing a Google gamepad that looks like a mix of a PlayStation controller and the unfortunate Ouya gamepad of half a dozen Decade looks like.
This may be the reason why Osterloh's hardware department is involved, even if Google does not produce an actual console. For example, if Microsoft and Sony are developing competing services, Google may not want their customers to use third-party controllers.
And it's a breeze that a service of this kind is primarily a controller-related experience. As things stand today, every cloud gaming service is likely to have at least some connectivity issues. The bar for console games is much lower than on a PC, where competitive games require the best possible connections and even milliseconds of latency for hardcore gamers.
In other words, this probably will not start as a mouse-and-keyboard experience, at least not at first glance. While we might not get Fortnite Apex Legends or Dota 2 on Google's platform, there's a fair chance that this service is a place to play big-budget single-player games like Assassin's Creed .
Google may merge with Ubisoft and id software for launch
If you need further proof that Google is billing its service as a destination for big single-player experiences, look They join the list of former partners who will attend the GDC and host the GDC. In particular, Google names the legendary shooter franchise Doom and its developer Id Software as one of its developer convention participants.
In addition, Google states that Ubisoft is another of its partners . Uncharted director Amy Hennig, who has recently left EA, is also featured on a forum sponsored by Google with a representative of the Tomb Raider Crystal Dynamics and game designer Raph Koster his. Now we do not know what this commitment means. These companies could simply be persuaded to overflow Google with technical praise and demonstrate one or two demos.
But if Assassin's Creed Doom and Tomb Raider are in fact early titles, you can play at Google to give the impression that Google is more likely to do so would like to make a console-quality competitor for single-player games and not just a streaming service for Android games. Also, you do not need perfect latency and extremely low ping for these titles because you do not interact with other online users.
It's too early, and we know too little to say for sure what Google's gaming announcement is all about. But for a company that has spent years looking into gaming, it now seems like a good time. Any major publisher and console maker would like to be the first to crack cloud games and get in on the ground floor of anything that could be the biggest change in the development and sale of games since the iPhone.
More exciting is that cloud gaming opens up all sorts of new, disruptive business models for games, including the coveted All-you-Can-Play monthly subscription. In a world where sales no longer dictate success, new Netflix-style experiences can explode that are playable on hardware of any quality and cost.