Google Announces Project Stream, a Game-Streaming Service for Chrome
Streaming services have transformed the way people receive music and movies, but game streaming has, thus far, had a comparatively small impact on the market. The bandwidth and latency requirements for game streaming are tougher to meet than they are for audio or film content, and the impact of a bandwidth drop is larger. Despite this, we’ve seen a slow-but-steady movement towards streaming services from a number of major content providers and gaming companies, with Microsoft planning to develop a next-generation Xbox dedicated to the concept. Now, even Google wants in on the action with a new Chrome browser initiative dubbed Project Stream.
Google has partnered with Ubisoft to create a technology demo in which Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will be available to stream to the Chrome browser on your local laptop or desktop. Google is actually the second company to announce that Odyssey will be available via streaming service — Nintendo made a similar announcement concerning the Switch in September, though in that case, the stream will only be available to the company’s Japanese subscribers. Google has released a video about its own initiative, available below:
There’s a lot of potential upside for Google if it can make the pieces fit together. One of the downsides to Chromebooks is that they lack the hardware for gaming and are focused in different markets. Addressing either weakness conventionally could lessen the platform’s appeal, either by raising the cost of finished systems or by requiring Google to do a good deal of work to bake in local capabilities for gaming that diminish the OS’s cloud focus. The advantage of streaming capabilities, if they prove robust, is that they could largely obviate the difference. Thus far, streaming capabilities haven’t set the gaming world on fire, but between gradual improvements to broadband service and more robust multiplayer networks from more companies, it’s an idea that’s becoming more popular.
Anyone interested in signing up for the Project Stream beta can head over to this site to do so — requirements are minimal, and all you basically need are a Google account, Ubisoft account, and reliable internet access. The trial is expected to run until mid-January, which should be plenty of time to beat the game, even if Ubisoft stuffs it full of side quests. And speaking of Ubisoft, it’s hard not to notice the company jockeying to be at the forefront of multiple experiments with game streaming technology. Company CEO Yves Guillemot has made it clear this is no accident. Earlier this year, Guillemot told the press he believes local installations will eventually go the way of the dinosaur.
“I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware,” Guillemot told Variety. “With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation, and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us.”
Ubisoft’s focus on streaming clearly dovetails with Google’s own approach to the topic, implying we might see more of the company’s games become available in this fashion going forward.