Phil Harrison on how Google Stadia Can Deliver Better, Deeper Simulated Games Than Any Local Hardware


Phil Harrison, an industry veteran who's been a high-ranking executive for companies like Microsoft, Sony and Atari, became VP at Google in early 2018. For over a year, the games industry speculated on what he might be working on at Google until the cloud streaming platform Stadia got announced last week during the yearly Game Developers Conference.

Speaking with PCGamesN at the event, Harrison took the time to highlight what makes Google Stadia unique. According to him, having a decentralized hardware structure can allow the creation of better and deeper simulations of game worlds.

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When you have an almost uncapped amount of computation sitting in a data centre that you can use to support your game design and ambition – whether it’s in vastly superior multiplayer, whether it’s in distributed physics, or massive simulation – there are things we can do inside a data centre that you could never do inside a discreet, standalone device.

We think that developers will get excited about some really rather mundane things that will actually have a huge impact on performance and scalability. If you want it you’ve got, effectively, petabytes of storage for your game locally – very, very fast storage – so that means you could create a simulation or a database that is vastly more complex.

If a developer can look at the resources that we can bring to bear on a game they can go orders of magnitude greater in terms of every player inside a world having a persistent memory that lasts over the entire span of the game. You could have tens of thousands of NPCs, all of whom have a complex relationship with each other and with the player – and it’s persistent. That requires a huge amount of local database that you can’t do in a discrete, standalone machine.

This all sounds enticing, though it is likely these technical features may only be truly exploited if developers create a game tailored to Google Stadia, exclusively to that platform. Jade Raymond is now spearheading the creation of a first-party studio at Google, but it will take some time before any game comes out of it.

Google Stadia will launch with hardware whose computational power is estimated around 10.7 teraflops. However, Phil Harrison already made it very clear that this will be just for the first generation of Stadia and the data centers will be regularly upgraded with more powerful hardware as requested by developers and customers alike.

More information about the service will be unveiled in the Summer.

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