- Beck Diefenbach/Reuters
- Google is one day away from unveiling its big push into video games.
- The initiative assuredly involves Google’s Netflix-like video game streaming service, Project Stream.
- Reports point to Google making a game console as well, though it’s not clear how powerful it will be.
Google is about to make a major push into the world of video games.
Unlike gaming heavyweights Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, Google isn’t likely to create a device that powers games. Instead, the company’s focus seems to be on a Netflix-like game streaming service.
From reports and Google’s own announcements, we already have a surprisingly clear picture of the company’s gaming plans ahead of a big announcement scheduled for March 19.
Here’s everything we know about Google’s ambitious push into video games:
The core of Google’s gaming service is a Netflix-style, on-demand game streaming service. It was already announced and publicly tested as “Project Stream.”
Near the end of 2018, and for much of January 2019, Google ran a limited test for its video game streaming service. That service, fittingly enough, is named “Project Stream.”
During the test, users could play 2018’s “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” for free in a browser tab on their computer. You could even use a Bluetooth controller to control the game.
It was little more than a proof of concept test, and it confirmed that – yes– Google’s service is indeed capable of streaming a blockbuster game to a web browser. It was impressive, easy to use, and quick.
Google has yet to make any official announcements about the future of Project Stream. What we do know is that Project Stream actually works, which is more than can be said for many of the previous efforts at creating a video game streaming service.
Google is also expected to make a game console, though it’s unlikely to directly compete with home game consoles in terms of horsepower.
Google isn’t likely to make a game console as powerful as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, or even one as powerful as the Nintendo Switch, but it does need to make some form of hardware for its service to function on TVs.
What’s most likely is Google releases a very inexpensive piece of hardware that acts as a means of accessing a game streaming library – a bare-bones Chromecast-like device rather than a brawny PS4-like device.
That device could potentially serve as a means of enabling Bluetooth gamepads to function on a television, and as a means of accessing Google’s game streaming service. It could be as small as a Chromecast or as big as a cable box. It could come with a Google-made gamepad, or something else, or nothing at all!
We simply don’t know just yet. Google has yet to confirm that a hardware device is even in the works.
We can, however, assume that Google isn’t making a powerful gaming console to compete with home consoles. Why’s that? We’d have heard about it! Between research and development costs, associated business deals with game makers, and hardware production, these things leak.
Look no further than the current crop of home game consoles from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft – all of which leaked heavily before launch, like so many “secret” hardware projects before them.
Google has reportedly been courting game developers and publishers to build a library for its game streaming service.
When Google tested Project Stream, it collaborated with Ubisoft to use “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” as the test game. Ubisoft has a long history of being the first publisher to work on new gaming platforms.
Given that, it would be unsurprising to see Ubisoft – and its game franchises, from “Assassin’s Creed” to “Splinter Cell” and “Rayman” – show up as one of the first publishers on Google’s streaming service.
Ultimately, Google’s gaming push lives and dies based on its game library.
Given that, Google is expected to announce various partnerships when its service gets officially unveiled in mid-March. The company has reportedly been courting developers and publishers since some point in 2018, and perhaps even earlier, according to Kotaku.
Google has a keynote scheduled for March 19 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Every March, the Game Developers Conference is held in San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center.
For the first time ever this year, Google is holding a keynote at the annual gathering. “All will be revealed at the Google Keynote,” an email from Google says of the event.
The only other hint at what could be announced is the bizarre GIF seen above, which Google also released.
Weird GIFs aside, it’s pretty clear that Google is planning to detail its gaming initiative on March 19. If educated guesses aren’t enough for you, perhaps this report from Fortune confirming as much will.