First Look: Is Google's Project Stream the Future of Gaming?
The Mainstream is Shifting
Not too long ago, Google announced Project Stream; a brand new games streaming service that promises to play current-gen games directly via the Google Chrome browser and an internet connection that is above 25mb/s down.
We know. It sounds too good to be true. The idea of being able to play any game on essentially any device has been unheard of until this point. So long hardware restrictions, so long console generations, so long lengthy downloads and installs, there's a new platform in town, and it means business. Literally.
We here at KontrolFreek were allowed access to Project Stream's closed beta, which comes with a streamable version of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (great game btw). Over the past month or so, we've been putting it to the test to see if streaming a game truly is where the industry is going, or if it's another gimmicky service that's destined to go the way of the dodo.
And the results may surprise you...
Over our first few play sessions, we noticed a few game crashes and latency bugs. The button input it just a couple milliseconds too long to feel like a traditional console experience as well (and PC gamers will have a very hard time getting used to that). But the autosave feature in Assassin's Creed Odyssey is so quick that when the game crashed, all you had to do was boot it up again and you were good to go.
Speaking of booting up, the initial load time for AC:O is relatively quick. Expectations were low for this when we tested this out for the first time, and we were pleasantly surprised.
So here's your answer...
After almost 20 hours of gameplay so far, we were all genuinely satisfied with the experience.
Even with the beta's many bugs and crashes, it's hard to ignore that Project Stream, or something similar to it, might disrupt the games industry the same way Netflix did with the introduction of movie streaming. What's even more staggering is just how close they are to perfecting the technology. The feeling of booting up a game on a standard laptop and then picking it back up later on another laptop seamlessly can't be understated. We're still amazed by what's happening even after booting up the game over 10 times.
Google aren't the only ones getting their feet wet with this type of tech. Practically every major gaming hardware manufacturer is also onboard the streaming train. Sony, Microsoft, and Nvidia are all making moves in that direction, right now all of those projects are in the R&D phase.
Project Stream is the biggest glimpse into the future of gaming that consumers can access (assuming you're accepted into the beta program), and represents a monumental shift in how we consume games in the near future. But there are still so many questions. How will multiplayer games work? Will VR even be possible using this method?
So still a long way to go. But even so, out title to this post is misleading. It really isn't a question of whether or not streaming is the future, it's more a matter of when it will become the future. And based on what we've experienced so far, the future of games is looking pretty promising.