Ahead of Google’s official announcement of Google Stadia, rumors arose in the last months about what exactly the tech giant planned to do in the gaming space. But, as Google’s Phil Harrison told me, those plans never included a proper physical console.
I spoke with Harrison at GDC 2019 following Google Stadia’s official reveal keynote. He noted that particular interest in Google’s game initiative came after last year’s Project Stream collaboration with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But despite whatever rumors may have popped up, Google did not intend to make a proper console like a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
“The world abhors a vacuum and when we weren’t telling the full story coming out of Project Steam, inevitability there was going to be speculation,” he said. “There was never a console, there was never going to be a console, there never will be a console.”
As the reveal keynote showcased, Stadia is meant to be a streaming game platform, one that bridges across devices so that players can hop from a phone to a tablet, to a TV (with Chromecast capabilities, of course) and seamlessly enjoy their gaming experiences. A “box,” as Harrison put it, would fly in the face of that guiding principle.
“The whole point of Stadia is that we are not a box, we are not specific to a device. The data center is our platform and we are screen agnostic. That is the fundamental design promise of Stadia, that a developer can build once and scale to a variety of endpoints.”
And of course, with a heavy emphasis on bringing existing game developers and publishers to Stadia, beyond Google’s announced first-party studio, Harrison and his team want Stadia to be as accessible to developers as possible. He actually told us about why the Project Stream-AC: Odyssey test is a great indicator of where they’ll take partnerships to bring games to Stadia.
Reports last year suggested Google was working on both a streaming platform and hardware — what the extent of that hardware would be was unknown, but, as many speculated, it was not a specific Google home console. Instead, the only hardware Google revealed is the Stadia controller, which has special buttons to fully take advantage of Stadia’s sharing and Google Assistant functionality.
For more on Stadia, be sure to check out IGN’s comprehensive breakdown of Google Stadia’s reveal and our opinion piece on why Google is so well situated to bring game streaming to players with Stadia.
Additionally, be sure to check out what Google’s claims about Stadia’s teraflop power exactly mean.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s News Editor and Beyond! host. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.
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