Google is working on a cloud gaming service, called Project Stream, that it claims will be capable of playing blockbuster games. The service will be trialled with the forthcoming Assassin's Creed Odyssey game streamed to, and playable with, Google's own Chrome web browser.
Project Stream's trial will start on Friday, involving a limited number of participants able to play the latest Assassin's Creed game at no charge for the duration of the trial. Participants will be expected to provide their feedback to Google.
Game streaming services aren't new but have struggled to take off due to latency. "The idea of streaming such graphically-rich content that requires near-instant interaction between the game controller and the graphics on the screen poses a number of challenges.
"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," wrote Google product manager Catherine Hsiao in a blog post revealing the service.
Indeed, current online games such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite and the various 'death match' and cooperative play modes in conventional games all frequently suffer due to latency - and that's without the intensive compute and network demands of running and effectively playing the game on a central server.
While Google acknowledges that, it claims to be building technology that can overcome such challenges. The company is inviting people to apply to be a part of Project Stream, but applicants must have internet connections capable of at least 25Mbps - and be over 17 and live in the US.
Google is not the first company to considerr gaming services in the cloud but, to date, cloud gaming services have been far from successful.
Onlive attempted cloud gaming between 2003 and 2015, with a subscription-based service requiring just a 2Mbps internet connection. However, critics complained of poor video quality and input lag, and inconsistent performance.
Onlive closed in 2015, selling its technology to Sony, which has partly recreated it in its Playstation Now service, which is also almost universally panned.
More recently, Shadow has also offered cloud gaming via a ‘cloud PC', but the company also offers other services more suitable to the model, such as enabling users to rent the use of GPUs if, for example, they have some particularly intensive rendering to do.
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