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Google coy with new Stadia details, pushes the promise of discoverability

Google has lofty ambitions for its coming cloud-based game platform Stadia, many of which include giving game developers and players alike the ability to approach video games in a different way.

Google has lofty ambitions for its coming cloud-based game platform Stadia, many of which include giving game developers and players alike the ability to approach video games in a different way.

Speaking during the GamesBeat Summit earlier today, Google VP and GM Phil Harrison said that one of the key goals of Stadia is to “change the perceived value of games” and make games as a whole a more discoverable medium.

Discoverability is an important topic for any storefront, and one that many platforms struggle to deal with as the number of games they support increases. To solve this issue for Stadia, Google wants to step away from traditional storefronts and the discoverability issues that come with both physical retailers and digital catalogs. 

For Stadia, the only storefront is the internet. He said the Chrome-driven platform “gets rid of some of the artificial barriers that have previously been put in front of players,” making it possible for players to pick up a game they’re interested in, or recommend one to a friend, without needing to go to retailer or wait hours for a game to install.

“If you find a game you think I’ll love, I can send you a link and you can play it,” he said, calling back to the fact that one of Stadia’s flagship features is the ability to jump right into a game with no download or install required. He notes later on that it’s a feature that has resonated with publishers in particular, since it offers them a way to close the marketing loop and connect directly with players, no middleman required.

“We’re asking gamers to buy the game, not the platform.”

Much of what Harrison had to say will sound familiar to those that have kept up with Google’s previous Stadia announcements. His talking points, like being able to access games “with no download, no patch, no update, and no install” haven’t changed much in the past month.

Many of the topics he addressed during the short talk were missing important context regarding Stadia's business model, which would’ve helped flesh out otherwise interesting features. Harrison did note that Google has “architected the platform to support a variety of business models,” but specific information on that topic won’t be announced until this summer at the earliest. To date, there's no public word on pricing tiers, or revenue share for game devs.

While vague on many things developers want to know about Stadia, Harrison did say that Google is taking care to make sure that devs are armed with the tools they need to focus less on the technical side of running games on Stadia and more on the creative possibilities that the platform opens up.

Part of this comes from the fact that one code base is all that's needed to run a game on Stadia's many supported screen types, be it on a TV, tablet, phone, or computer. Devs will have the ability to tweak certain aspects of each as needed, however, like adjusting certain UI elements when a game is being played on mobile to best suit that experience

He also called out Stadia’s “state share” feature, the ability for players to share a link at any point in a game that allows other players to load into that exact moment of the game, as something he thinks will inspire game developers to create new and interesting moments and narrative.

It's one of the features he says is unique to datacenter-powered game platforms, and one that offers a lot of room for developers to be creative with game worlds and multiplayer.

“That is something that you can only do when games are running on the data center."

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