Google experiments with video game streaming

Google has announced an experimental game streaming service called Project Stream that will enable users to access cutting-edge video games through their browser, regardless of whether their computer would normally be able to run the program.

The service will be tested using soon-to-be-released game Assassins Creed Odyssey, which would normally require a current-generation console or reasonably powerful PC to play. However, as the games visual processes, as well as the inputs from the player, will all be streamed online and handled by Googles systems, in theory any computer with a Chrome browser installed and a decent internet connection will be capable of running it.

The test, which will be free to those taking part, has limited spaces, and US consumers can sign up via the projects website. Given that the game will be streamed at a 1080p full-HD resolution at 60 frames per second, it will use a considerable amount of data, but as internet providers continue to push the capabilities of their networks (and with the approaching advent of 5G), many users will be able to meet the demand.

“The idea of streaming such graphically-rich content that requires near-instant interaction between the game controller and the graphics on the screen poses a number of challenges,” said Catherine Hsiao, product manager at Google. “When streaming TV or movies, consumers are comfortable with a few seconds of buffering at the start, but streaming high-quality games requires latency measured in milliseconds with no graphic degradation.”

The advent of streaming video games could prove as transformative for the gaming industry as the rise of platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime has for the film and TV industries. By separating hardware requirements from the ability to play games, it could open up a huge variety of titles to new consumers, in particular high-priced new releases which often demand the most from systems.

Googles Project Stream isnt the only game in town, either. Graphics specialist Nvidia is currently runnign a beta of its GeForce Now game streaming service, while another firm, Shadow, offers cloud-based streaming. The gaming industry earned $109bn in 2017, almost three times as much as the movie industry, so the first firm to crack this technology and capture the market stands to draw in significant revenues.