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Google’s ProjectStream could mark beginning of end of game consoles



Assassin's Creed Odyssey
games like “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” usually require expensive
consoles, but that could change soon.

“Assassin’s Creed Odyssey”/Ubisoft

  • Google’s ProjectStream lets you play blockbuster video
    games with your internet browser, if you’ve got a strong enough
    internet connection.
  • Using ProjectStream, the visuals and controls of
    “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” match the look and feel of playing
    the game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
  • If ProjectStream and other cloud gaming platforms can
    provide a streaming experience that feels consistent with
    playing on console, they can lower the price of entry for
    high-end video games by hundreds of dollars.
  • Cloud gaming will eventually kill consoles if it can
    provide gamers with a healthy library of streaming games at the
    right price.

Earlier this month Google rolled out a closed beta test for
, a video game streaming service that lets you
play high-quality video games via the Chrome browser. The
beta test includes just one game, the recently released
“Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.”

Developed by Ubisoft, “Assassin’s Creed” is the sort of
blockbuster game that would traditionally require a $400 console
or gaming computer to play. ProjectStream significantly reduces
that barrier to entry; the sole requirement is a 25 mbps or
faster internet connection, and controllers are optional.

Having already played “Odyssey” on PlayStation 4, I was skeptical
of how ProjectStream would compare to the console experience.
After all, ProjectStream isn’t the first cloud-based video game
streaming service and the technology hasn’t been a hit so
far. Sacrificing graphic-quality or settling for less
responsive controls has felt like a requirement for past cloud
gaming services, and performance varies greatly depending on the
game. Given that “Odyssey” is a brand new game with a huge open
world, I was skeptical whether ProjectStream would be able to
keep up.

handled the large scale battles in “Odyssey” without

“Assassin’s Creed

Playing for the first time on a MacBook Pro, my concerns were
quickly put to rest. At its best, ProjectStream’s version of
“Odyssey” felt identical to playing on PlayStation, the game
immediately recognized the PlayStation 4 controller I connected
via Bluetooth and showed the correct button icons on screen.
There was no noticeable delay in the controls and the visuals
seemed overall consistent with what I saw on PS4, though
“Odyssey” does have additional support for 4K and HDR on consoles
and PC.

I tried ProjectStream with three different computers with three
different network scenarios; a 2017 MacBook Pro on 250 mbps
wifi, an HP hybrid laptop on a 50 mpbs wifi connection, and
my gaming PC with a 970 GTX graphics card on a 1 gbps connection.
The experience felt pretty much identical across the three
computers, making their difference in processing power feel

Running on the slowest internet connection, the HP laptop did
experience some brief moments of instability where the image
would appear somewhat pixelated and the controls would freeze,
but the game would return to normal after a few seconds. On my
gaming PC and the MacBook, ProjectStream was essentially

Assassin's Creed Odysessy
a brand new game like “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” was the perfect
test for ProjectStream.

Creed Odysessy”/Ubisoft

Consistency is the most encouraging factor of ProjectStream.
Knowing that the experience playing via the Google Chrome browser
matches console gameplay regardless of the computer  I’m
using — as long as the internet speed if fast enough — is great
motivation to leave my PlayStation version of the game behind.
ProjectStream also carries my game save over automatically so I
can easily continue where I left off, whether I’m playing at
work, at home, or at a friend’s house. Unfortunately
ProjectStream doesn’t work on smartphones or tablets just yet,
but it would be surprising if Google can’t find a way to make the
service functional on their own Android devices.

ProjectStream represents a convincing jump in cloud gaming
technology at a time where gamers are wondering if the next
generation of video game consoles will prioritize streaming
content over traditional media. ProjectStream takes advantage of
Google’s massive server infrastructure and development resources,
showcasing a beta product that gamers can be confident in. But
even if the technology can match the experience of an Xbox or
PlayStation, the next important step will be finding a way to
deliver a full library of new and old video games at a price that
makes sense.

PlayStation Now
PlayStation Now has offered cloud gaming for years, but
doesn’t include the latest titles.


Google will also be competing head-to-head with endemic video
game brands as it enters the game streaming space. So far the
most functional cloud gaming options have been Sony’s PlayStation
Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now, but neither service feels like
a true alternative to buying an expensive console or
PC. PlayStation Now offers a preselected library with
hundreds of games for $20 a month for PS4 and PC, but newer
titles are not included. GeForce Now gives players access to
specific titles they’ve already purchased for their PC library
and charges $25 per 20 hours of streaming time. For reference,
“Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” costs $60 to own and takes at least
30 hours to complete.

Shortly after the rollout of the ProjectStream beta, Microsoft
announced its own cloud gaming
, Project xCloud. Project xCloud will stream games to
both PCs and mobile devices with a launch planned for 2019.
Microsoft has already shown off touchscreen controls for tablets
and peripherals to use Xbox controllers with smartphones.
Microsoft already has a separate game subscription service with
Xbox Game Pass, which currently players the ability to fully
download games on PC and Xbox One instead of streaming them.

Project xCloud Phone Clip
Microsoft plans to bring cloud gaming to mobile


During its 2018 keynote, Microsoft executive Phil Spencer teased
that the new Xbox devices would make use of cloud gaming as well.
Spencer said the company’s goal with Project xCloud is to reach
the two billion people playing games around the world, regardless
of the hardware they play on.

It will take some time for publishers and gaming platforms to
establish a market for streaming games, but ProjectStream has
shown that the future of gaming will not depend on selling
consoles; great games can be delivered right to your browser. The
beta test for ProjectStream is accepting new players on an
ongoing basis and will run through January 2019. Follow this link to sign up.

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