“We’re inspired by the game creators who spend years crafting these amazing worlds, adventures and experiences, and we’re building technology that we hope will support and empower that creativity.”
Google wants you to be able to play graphic-rich computer games live in the Chrome browser and on October 5 will begin a Beta of what it has dubbed Project Stream.
The company is describing the beta, available only to a limited number of US users, as a “technical test” with the aim of solving the issues around interactive video streaming, including those of latency without graphic degradation.
It comes amid growing interest among tech giants in cloud-based game streaming, as hardware capabilities improve rapidly, with some gaming company executives openly speculating that the era of consoles may soon be over.
Project Manager of Project Stream, Catherine Hsiao, noted in a blog that the company has a lot of experience streaming content to users, adding: “It’s a technically complex process that has come a long way in a few short years, but the next technical frontier for streaming will be much more demanding than video.”
Google Push Into Gaming
Rumours have abounded over Google’s push to stream high-end games from remote servers, with games giant Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot recently saying that game streaming could replace consoles entirely after one more generation of hardware and Microsoft also rumoured to be making the cloud-game streaming link.
It’s convenient that Ubisoft are in the middle of a marketing push for the release of their new title Assassins Creed Odyssey, the twentieth game in the Assassin Creed series, and, coincinciding with the release of Odyssey on October 5, Google’s Project Stream will offer a limited selection of players a chance to play the game for free via the beta.
All that is required to join is you need to be in the US, have a Google account, Ubisoft account and the capability to run Chrome 69 on higher.
Hsiao notes that: “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.”
In fast paced video games not experiencing frame rate and lagging issues is paramount. Lining up a shot, be it in Fifa or Fortnite comes with the expectation that when you pull the trigger in the real world, the character in the virtual is only milliseconds behind you. A game is different from streaming a video. A video you have to stream pixels and they can be tightly packed.
However, in a AAA title not only will you have to stream an environment tightly packed with pixels, but you also have to stream the physics of the world; bullet cases should fall to the ground not hover in mid-air, for example.
The hardware in gaming PC’s, the PS4 or Xbox One don’t just deal with running physics engines they also process the lighting effects, producing realistic shadow effects and shades. This might not sound like much, but it’s heavy on the processor. In fact we are only coming around the corner to realistic lighting in video games in the last five years or so.
Here is a video of NVIDIA showcasing their GeForce RTX series their first gaming GPU based on their new Turing Architecture. A key strength it has it its realistic lighting simulation and this only came out a few months ago.
See Also: NVIDIA unveils its GeForce RTX series
Due to these reasons Assassins Creed Odyssey may be a good test of whether Google can stream this type of content, but it is not the real test, not from a gaming point of view. Assassins Creed Odyssey is a single player game where you move through a storyline interacting with AI characters and enemies. Yes the graphics in Assassins Creed Odyssey are standard for our time, but they won’t test the latency issues
The real test comes when they try to stream a fast paced multiplayer game such as Counter Strike or Fortnite; in those games players go head to head in teams and life and death is measured in milliseconds.