Google will make a gaming announcement at the Game Developers Conference tomorrow which could rock the industry to its core. Of course, it could also turn out to be another footnote in the tech giant’s list of failed experiments, but there’s no doubt that the top brass at Sony will be tuning into the organisation’s keynote with particular interest.
The likelihood is that it will announce some form of new streaming technology, similar in concept to PlayStation Now. The juggernaut has already experimented with this concept, streaming Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through the Google Chrome browser last year. Tomorrow’s reveal will likely include a hardware component as well, as evidenced by empty demo pods photographed at the event.
There’s also been a patent doing the rounds, showing a hypothetical Google controller. The most likely outcome here is some kind of Chromecast-esque set-top box, which will provide plug-and-play gaming via the cloud, similar to the way a Roku box allows you to stream television shows. Ubisoft and id Software will be at the keynote, so expect support from some major publishers.
Perhaps most interesting of all is that Google has been poaching some of PlayStation’s biggest names: Jack Buser, who previously fronted the PS Now project, is currently employed by Google; legendary executive Phil Harrison has also teamed up with the giant. Even more fascinatingly, PlayStation Move and PlayStation VR inventor Dr Richard Marks was headhunted last year.
And that’s without even mentioning the recent recruitment of Jade Raymond, who’s best known for leading the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and working her way up Ubisoft’s corporate ladder. Most recently she helped establish EA Motive, which collaborated with DICE on Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Big names, then – and Google’s talking big game.
But will it deliver? Well, the jury’s still out. We suspect that if it is going down the streaming path – and we can’t imagine it will be going in any other direction at this point – there will be a lot of resistance from core gamer crowds. But between Sony, Microsoft, and soon Google, battle lines are beginning to be drawn, and it looks like we may have to accept this is the way the industry is going.