Google Stadia will turn your Chromecast Ultra into a PS4-beating console

And of course, Google Assistant is on board

Stadia turns Chromecast into a console

Google’s highly anticipated gaming system has finally been revealed, and, well, it’s not really a “system” at all. Google Stadia is a cloud gaming platform, but one that makes use of Google’s various devices and the Assistant to update gaming for 2019.

Because all of the major legwork for Stadia is happening in Google’s cloud servers, you don’t need a lot to use it. In fact, if you have a Chromecast Ultra you have full access to Stadia. Spec-to-spec on raw power Google boasts that Stadia is more powerful than Sony’s and Microsoft’s boxes combined.

Read this: How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

There's a lot to unpack in Stadia, and a lot we still don't know. It's coming this year, but we don't know the price. It has 4K/60FPS streaming, but we don't know how internet speeds will impact latency. It has cool features like State Share and Crowd Play which will let viewers jump directly into game streams – but there are lots of questions around the mechanics. And of course, Google is leveraging the Assistant with a button on the controller that will let you call up Google Assistant directly.

Google demonstrated how you can use the Assistant for help if you’re stuck on a particularly tricky part of the game, though it’s not yet clear if you’ll be able to use it to control all your other smart devices and do all the usual Assistant things. Considering Google has tried to keep the Assistant experience as even as possible across devices, we expect you will.

Google will be revealing more on Stadia in the coming months, but it's clear that the company has built a gaming platform that's better suited for 2019. Importantly, it feels like one that's ready for the smart home – not to mention it's another way for Google to sneak the Assistant into more homes.

The rise of the smart TV will also be an essential component to Stadia's success, says Matthew Bailey, senior analyst at Ovum, although right now it seems you'll need the Chromecast Ultra to get Stadia working. “The TV screen is already a key priority for Google and its competitors in the digital advertising and online video markets, and device-agnostic game streaming services like Stadia will only intensify this focus," Bailey told The Ambient.

"According to Ovum’s forecasts, the global installed base of internet-connected smart TVs alone will outnumber that of home game consoles by four to one by 2022. Smart TVs will become more important as they essentially negate the need for separate, dedicated media hardware – including media streamers and, of course, gaming consoles – for the consumption of OTT media and entertainment services."

The PS4 and Xbox One have added some smart home features over time, and as Bailey points out, these companies are also exploring cloud gaming in their own ways – but Google's arrival, with its network in place and having laid the groundwork with the Google Assistant already, just gave everyone else cause for concern.

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