Google is building a gaming platform "for everyone" in Stadia. But the question on the minds of many gamers is: What exactly can we play?
The tech giant provided scant details about Stadia at a keynote event at GDC on Tuesday, at least as far as the consumer experience will go. Google (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report CEO Sundar Pichai and various executives went into detail about its data center architecture, powered by custom-built GPUs made by AMD (AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Report .
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But many key details, including what Stadia will cost, how much bandwidth will be needed to run it -- and perhaps most importantly -- what you can play on it, were missing from the presentation.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey, developed by Ubisoft, figured prominently into the Stadia premiere. The popular graphics-heavy game was part of Google's Project Stream experiment last fall to stream games to a Chrome browser, and a demo of it was played on several different devices at the launch event. Other games mentioned during the presentation included ZeniMax Media's Doom Eternal and Take Two's (TTWO) - Get Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. Report NBA 2K, signaling that Google is working with major publishers to onboard some of the most popular game titles prior to launch.
What other games will be available at launch is still a mystery -- but some of the Google leadership involved could provide some clues.
One leg of the plan involves a new division called Stadia Games and Entertainment, described by Google general manager Phil Harrison as "Google's own first-party game studio" tasked with creating exclusive content for Stadia. That division is headed up by Jade Raymond, a gaming industry veteran who formerly headed up EA Motive and was a lead producer at Ubisoft.
The division will include both original games developed by Google and an ecosystem supporting external games, Raymond told an audience at GDC.
"As the head of Stadia Games and Entertainment, I will not only be bringing first-party game studios to reimagine the new generation of games, our team will also be working with external developers to make all of the bleeding edge technology you've seen here today available to partner studios big and small," Raymond said.
Google said that it's shipped development kits to 100 developers around the world, as well as more than 1,000 other game artists and engineers, that will enable them to link their titles to the Stadia system. Stadia's technology is meant to allow gamers to launch games onto any device directly from YouTube through a "Play Now" button.
GDC attendees were abuzz about what effect Stadia will have on gamers, and game makers -- and the market fragmentation that could be coming, with Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com Inc. Report also expected to launch competing game streaming products soon and Sony (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report already offering a streaming game service.
"Look at what's happening with movie streaming services: I was all for Netflix, but then it became Netflix and Hulu, then Netflix and Hulu and HBO Go, and now Disney...at a certain point, you're paying more for all these streaming services than you would have for cable. Plus, trying to figure out what content is on what service," said Alexander Winn, CEO of Edgeworks Entertainment. "Unfortunately, I think [the fragmentation] is going to be a problem for indie developers."
Google is expected to reveal more about what games will be available this summer, and plans to launch Stadia to the public sometime in 2019.
Alphabet shares were up 2% to $1,226.07 on Wednesday after rising 1.17% on Wednesday.
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