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Google Announces Stadia Cloud Gaming Service at GDC 2019

We knew this was coming, especially after Google's teaser from earlier this month. Project Stream was a proof-of-concept in collaboration with Ubisoft, to see whether AAA gaming was possible over the internet. Things were smooth most of the time in our own experience, but there remained questions over how the concept would translate over to a finished product, especially with infrastructure challenges on the client side of things. Google's keynote at GDC just wrapped up, and the main focus was Stadia- the now named cloud gaming service borne out of Project Stream.

Stadia is built with instant access in mind. An example demo came in the form of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was used in the public test before. It is integrated with partner YouTube channels such that a trailer for a supported game would have an option to play said game, which would then launch immediately. Stadia is built with support from a wide partner network including AMD, Unity, id Software, and more, with details seen past the break.

NVIDIA Partners with OBS for GeForce Optimization and RTX Encoder

We saw a glimpse of this at the NVIDIA suite during CES 2019, with a beta version coming out shortly after. NVIDIA and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) have since brought out the full release of a new OBS Studio, version 23.0.1, that adds improved support for NVIDIA GeForce cards. In particular, their latest and greatest RTX lineup, including the new desktop RTX 2060 as well as the mobile and Max-Q variants, will see an FPS impact drop by as much as 66% according to NVIDIA's internal testing. Some example results are seen below, with games such as Fortnite, PUBG, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Blackout, and Apex Legends seeing a frame rate boost by up to 48% compared to x264 Fast, and 27% compared to x264 Very Fast.

Given this is a result of NVENC, NVIDIA's hardware encoder, in place, older GeForce GPUs (GTX 600-series and newer that support NVENC) will also see some benefits. GeForce RTX GPUs just get to enjoy a bit more- up to 15% more, in fact, in efficiency as far as bitrate consumption for the same graphical fidelity. NVIDIA effectively says that "GeForce RTX GPUs can stream with superior image quality compared to x264 Fast, and on par with x264 Medium", thus putting in a strong case for single-PC gaming and streaming, as opposed to having a dedicated streaming PC. They have even put out a video to go over the enhancements, which will no doubt interest game streamers on the PC platform.

Google Keynote at GDC 2019 Hints Towards Dedicated Gaming Entry

Google sent out a fairly cryptic invite to the game developers and associated press this week in the form of a GIF (converted into relevant images below). It teases a keynote on March 19, 2019 and more information was made available shortly confirming this would be in the form of a keynote to be held at 10 am PST during GDC this year. The media giant promises to "reveal all", and also has developer-focused sessions throughout the course of the event. An early report from The Information suggests the keynote will have Google talk about their new game-streaming service, code-named Yeti. This is in line with our own expectations, after having participated in the fairly successful Project Stream beta test that concluded recently.

Kotaku went further to suggest that Yeti is a streaming service in conjunction with a hardware platform- a simple streaming box, if you will, to take on the dedicated game consoles of 2019 and beyond. Indeed, Google has been wanting to get into this highly lucrative market, with intentions to take over Twitch before Amazon pulled one over them. There remain many challenges in general to a game-streaming world, not least of which were detailed in our own editorial linked above. But, with the next generation consoles getting ready for development and Microsoft willing to explore a game-streaming future themselves, perhaps Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and others should pay very close attention to said Google keynote in less than a month's time.

Project Stream is Google's Version of Game Streaming: Play Assassin's Creed Odyssey in Chrome Browser

In 2010, a company called OnLive believed that game streaming was the future. The problem was that they believed that this future would come sooner than what ended up happening. The company (or rather, its IP) would end up being bought by Sony instead. The Japanese company then launched PlayStation Now later, which in itself is a cloud gaming platform that finally brought us closer to that future.

They weren't the only ones hedging this bet, however, and soon the cloud gaming fever spread to other companies and manufacturers. NVIDIA's GeForce NOW is one of the clearest examples of that venture, with its own pros and cons. But now we have a new, promising competitor in this field: Google, which announced yesterday the birth of the so-called "Project Stream". As the name suggests, this initiative is intended to offer end users the possibility of playing any game from any device and with only one requirement: to have access to the Google Chrome browser.
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