Google's Phil Harrison introduces the Stadia controller. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Google on Tuesday unveiled what it sees as the future of video gaming: A streaming service called Stadia that allows anyone with a Chrome browser and a controller to experience console-quality gaming. It will launch this year, Google said, in the US, Canada and Europe.

Why it matters: Google's general approach — that what used to be a console for playing physical media is headed to the cloud — is widely shared. Microsoft and Amazon are also seen as likely entrants in this space.

Details: Google unveiled Stadia and the controller during a talk at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. So far, Google has announced that Stadia will offer:

  • Games can open in just 5 seconds
  • A single game can run on phones, tablets, TVs and computers
  • Stadia uses custom designed AMD graphics chips
  • Works with existing controllers and devices
  • Google will also have its own controller designed for Stadia, with buttons to stream to YouTube and summon Google Assistant to get help with the game
  • Players can share not just video of their game, but also the game state itself, letting others play from the same position. (Thought bubble: This is a very big deal.)
  • At launch, Google said Stadia will support up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and eventually work at up to 8K resolution
  • Among the first games will be Id's Doom Eternal. Google will also have its own studio making Stadia games, to be led by Jade Raymond, formerly of Electronic Arts.

What they haven't said: What Stadia will cost and which games will be available. More details are coming this summer, it said.

Flashback: Google has been testing the technical underpinnings of its game-streaming technology since last fall, when it debuted Project Stream. With that, it streamed a single game, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, running off Google's servers.

Between the lines: The key to any gaming service is having the right content. Hence, today's appeal to developers.

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