Google has been a part of the Games Developer Conference for years, typically using the event to show off new things it's doing to help developers make games for Android. Over the last couple of years, the focus has drifted from social gaming to VR/AR experiences and even a really cool way to use Google Maps to build gaming worlds. This year is going to be a little different. For the first time, Google is presenting an entire keynote at GDC with a huge focus on playing games.
And if you've been keeping an eye on the gaming world, you can probably guess it has something to do with game streaming. Here's what we know so far, and how you can watch the Keynote yourself.
What to expect from this event
Back in October, Google and Ubisoft made it possible to play the entirety of Assassin's Creed Odyssey in your browser. You could play on just about anything running Chrome, and your save data would travel with you no matter where you were. And, for a beta test, it was pretty damn good. But when the test period ended, Google gave a free PC copy of the game to active participants and didn't really say anything else about the project. No clue on what to expect for the next phase of the experience, or when it would happen. It just sort of ended, which is unusual even for Google.
But this isn't the first time Google's gaming plans have been confusing and a little secretive. News of a group working under something called "Project Yeti" have been circulating for years now, with new additions causing interest to swell every couple of months.
Most recently, Google hired Jade Raymond to be the VP of... something, likely gaming-related. Raymond's gaming expertise goes all the way back to her days as the executive producer and co-creator of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, so it's difficult to avoid speculating on her new assignment at Google. Last year, industry veteran Phil Harrison joined as a General Manager at Google, as well. It's clear there's been a slow gathering of gifted gaming folks in Mountain View for a while now, likely in preparation for this very announcement.
While the beta test for Project Stream was built to function on any equipment you currently have, it's clear there will be a hardware announcement attached to this keynote. Google hardware boss Rick Osterloh has been one of the voices telling everyone on social to pay attention to this keynote, so it's more than a little likely we'll see some hardware. What, exactly, is a topic of intense speculation.
Some are hoping for a Chromecast-like dongle you can attach to your TV to stream games, while others are looking to something more closely resembling Android TV as a small set-top box. Either way, recently discovered patent applications suggest there will be a dedicated controller Google wants to sell you that may offer some unique functionality attached to the service. But it's unlikely to be the only controller you can use, Google has been regularly adding gamepad support to Chrome recently, including the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con.
So what about games? While it's unlikely we're going to see exclusives of any kind, it's clear Google is targeting the high end gaming experience. Ubisoft is clearly onboard from the test, and Google announced recently that Id Software would be there in the sandboxes to show off something with its latest DOOM game. Toss in a panel with Tomb Raider game designer Ralph Koster, and you could be looking at the beginnings of a very nice starting lineup. It would be cool to see current hits like Apex Legends or The Division 2 join this lineup, but we'll need to see the keynote to get the rest of these details.
How to watch the Google GDC Keynote
Like all Google events, this keynote will be streamed! You can watch the keynote right here on Tuesday, March 19th starting at 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific. And be sure to stick around after, as we're going to have lots to say about everything unveiled on stage.
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