Amid rumors of an upcoming game service, Google on Monday announced Project Stream: A way to play console game titles in 1080p resolution up to 60 frames per second. And this isn’t just an idea, Google is actually testing it with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a beta that you can apply to. You’ll need at least 25 Mbps internet service, but if you get in the beta and have a fast enough connection, you can play this new title in your Chrome browser or on nearly any Chromebook.
Here’s a demo video of the game being streamed; it looks pretty good. Not quite as good as playing locally but definitely capable of providing a solid experience.
While this sounds like a radical approach, it’s really not. In early 2017, I bought an Nvidia Shield TV box — which runs Android TV — for the 4K set in my home office and Nvidia has a similar service. Nvidia charges a monthly fee which includes some free titles but I also purchases some top-tier games that I had previously played on my Xbox One. All of the games stream from Nvidia’s servers and they were very playable. Granted, I have 1 Gbps fiber to my home, so you’d expect them to.
The key for either Nvidia’s service or Google’s Project Stream is really input latency, or the time delay between taking an action on your game controller and the time that action hits the streaming servers. Again, with Nvidia’s service, I never experienced any such issues so I’d expect Google to manage that well also.
There are some requirements but they’re not what you’d expect: Meaning, it’s not about your Chromebook’s processing power or RAM so much. Instead, you simply need either a Playstation DualShock 4 Controller or an Xbox One USB controller connected to your Chromebook.
Wired controller support has been around for a few years in Chrome OS — see the top photo above when I was using a controller with my Pixelbook in 2015 –, so pretty much any Chromebook ought to work. The most important requirement is your internet connection to stream the game graphics and to read your controller actions.
I signed up for the beta in hopes to get in, so if I do, I’ll try it with a range of Chrome OS devices. And hopefully, this becomes a full-fledged product so that Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets can get in on the game action.