Google is betting on the video game industry with its greatest gaming innovation yet: Stadia.
Introduced at the Game Developers Conference Tuesday, Stadia is a streaming service that will work across all devices so long as Chromecast is plugged into your TV, Chrome is your main Internet browser, and you have a Google Pixel phone instead of the usual iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone. No need to fret over long hours of waiting for a game to download to your devices, just start playing it instantly over any Wi-Fi connection.
Google dubbed Stadia a "game platform for everyone," developing the platform with YouTube in mind. If someone watching a video of their favorite YouTube creator playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, for example, a button will show up that says "play now," allowing the player to press the button and start playing the game in as little as five seconds.
The best part about Stadia is that it doesn't come with an Xbox or PlayStation-esque console, so your wallet is safe. No special hardware is required except for a $35 Chromecast to play on the TV.
For those who are more accustomed to console gaming than PC gaming, Google has the Stadia Wi-Fi connected controller, which looks like a typical controller, only it's equipped with two special buttons—one to summon Google Assistant and ask for gameplay tips with a simple "Hey Google," and the other to screencap game highlights to share on YouTube. To enhance gameplay performance, the controller connects directly to the data center instead of the device of the player's choice.
Speaking of performance, according to The Verge, Google is collaborating with AMD to build a custom GPU for its data centers, which they claim will deliver 10.7 teraflops of power to Stadia—more than the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X combined.
You might be asking yourself, "What the hell are teraflops?" According to IGN, FLOPS is an acronym for Floating Point Operations Per Second. Floating point operations are complex calculations a computer needs to perform when drawing polygons on your screen. The more floating point calculations it can do per second, the more complex and realistic the graphics get. Thus, 10.7 teraflops on the Stadia brings you highly fluid framerates of gameplay—the water is clear as crystal, the shadows perfectly match the character casting it—making the PS4's 4.2 teraflops and the Xbox One X's 6 teraflops look pale in comparison.
At launch, Stadia will stream games in 4K at 60fps, but will eventually support games up to 8K and 120fps.
Google said Stadia will be available later this year, but they didn't give a firm release date nor pricing information. Chances are likely that they'll render Stadia to a subscription service, making players pay a slightly higher monthly fee than Netflix.