Google has plans for a major entry to enter the $100 billion gaming market. At least, that's the word from Kotaku's Jason Schreier, who cites five separate sources with first or second-hand knowledge.
As you would expect, details are currently sparse, but Google appears to have three major plans for the industry. A game streaming platform, which we've heard previously, a console, and the purchase of development studios.
It's not the first time the search giant has made steps towards the market, but the sentiment this time is that it's likely to come to fruition. According to Schrier, Google met with several big companies at the Games Developers in March, as well as at E3 2018.
Sources say the company was looking to woo big players to its game streaming service (codenamed ‘Yeti'), but also talk about some acquisitions. Yeti holds the concept of most streaming services. Low-powered hardware will run AAA games by offloading the computing power to Google's data centers. The game will instead stream to the user's PC like an interactive live stream.
The Latency Conundrum
It's a concept many have tried and failed. The ability to provide a seamless experience without latency and video compression has proved difficult. Last year, we got an early look at LiquidSky but ran into the same issues and high pricing. However, with Google's top-of-the-line engineers and significant infrastructure, it may be possible.
Google's near-monopoly on free internet services may also provide it with benefits. Sources are talking about integration with YouTube, for example, letting players watch walkthroughs without leaving their game. In the future, you may be able to simply google search for a game and press the play button.
For now, though, the speed of user's connection is a bottleneck. Though average download speeds are increasing across the world, progress is slow and many rural areas are severely underserved. Even LAN streaming runs into image quality issues during complex scenes, making 4K seem near-impossible.
However, it's a problem many big tech companies are working on. Nvidia has its GeForce Now platform for PC, Microsoft is working on its own streaming platform, and EA has an initiative, too. The concern is that too many cooks will spoil the broth and players will have to pay out for multiple subscriptions to get full access.
When it comes to Google's hardware plans, things are even murkier. It's not clear if it's console will be a high-powered one, a low-power streaming device, or even a handheld. It's hard to say what the company can offer that doesn't already exist, but it appears to be seriously considering it. Schreier says video game executive Phil Harrison joined the company early this year after much time at Sony and Microsoft. It also seems to be buying up game marketing professionals.
Unfortunately, the search giant doesn't have a great track record. Its experimental nature has meant many abandoned projects, from a rumored Android console to Google Glass. It's easily possible this will become another ditched idea, but we'd love to be surprised.