Google is expected to reveal a new streaming gaming service today at GDC. While rumors regarding the service have been floating around for months, new details have come to light which finally gives us a better understanding of what Google is aiming for. While streaming gaming services aren’t anything new, Google’s approach will be different from what we’ve seen before. Rather than focusing on a specific piece of hardware to power the gaming service, Google wants to make it platform agnostic, allowing users to play games using their computers, TV, smartphones and even the lowly Chromecast. The only hardware the Google is planning to release is its own gaming controller which could have some game streaming capabilities built right into it.
The reason most streaming game services have fizzled out over the past few years is because of low bandwidth and high latency which result in a poor gaming experience. Since Google has dozens of data centers located across the globe which already deliver streaming video for YouTube and data storage for Google Photos and Drive to millions of customers, Google is uniquely positioned. On top of that, the video encoding technology Google has developed for YouTube should allow the company to deliver high definition gaming streams with minimal bandwidth.
As for the service itself, a new rumor claims that Google is planning to make the service more interactive than social than we’ve seen from other gaming platforms.
One scenario that’s been described to us by three different people (each of whom either heard about it secondhand or directly from Google), for example, might look something like this: You’re watching your favorite Twitch streamer play a game and you think it looks cool, so you buy it, and then, if the developers of the game have toggled this feature, you can download a save file that starts you off right where your streamer was playing. Or maybe it’s a multiplayer game, and you can buy the game and immediately jump into a match with the streamer, if the developers allow it and the streamer is down.
The service could also identify when users are in a game, suggesting a walkthrough video on YouTube if a user happens to get stuck.
In addition to supporting third-party titles, Google is also working to create its own video game division called Google Yeti. Running the new division is Phil Harrison who has worked for XBox and PlayStation over the years.
What’s still unknown is what Google plans on charging for its gaming service and when it will officially roll out to consumers. Fortunately, we only have a few hours to go before all the details are revealed.