A wild report from The Information (subscription required) claims Google is working on a subscription-based gaming streaming service, delivered either over Google’s Chromecast devices or via a totally new Google-made gaming console.
The service is codenamed “Yeti,” and it would be similar to streaming services like PlayStation Now—users would pay a subscription fee to access a collection of games, which are run on a remote device and streamed over the Internet. The Information notes that “an early version” of this service was designed to work over a Chromecast, which is interesting since it’s unclear how a game controller would ever hook up to a Chromecast. More recently, Google has reportedly started experimenting with a Google-developed game console and controller. The project is being led by two Google hardware executives—Mario Queiroz, VP of product management, and Majd Bakar, VP of engineering—so if this ever sees the light of day, new hardware seems likely.
Game streaming removes the need to purchase expensive video game hardware, since all the game processing is done in the cloud. The tradeoff is that it puts a big strain on your Internet service and the provider’s infrastructure, since every video frame and every button press has to be streamed over the Internet with minimal lag. If any company is good at building a speedy, robust internet service, though, it’s Google. It already has a massive content delivery infrastructure thanks to sites like YouTube, and the company currently has a small gaming footprint with the Android-focused Google Play Games service and YouTube Gaming, a Twitch competitor.
This new service has reportedly been in development for two years, and it’s so far along that Google reportedly considered launching it for the Holiday 2017 season. For an unknown reason, the project was delayed. Google has started and cancelled gaming projects in the past, and right now there’s no telling if this ever sees a release. However, Google did just hire Phil Harrison, a man who spent 15 years as an executive in Sony’s Playstation division and three years in Microsoft’s Xbox division. Harrison reports to Google’s SVP of Hardware, Rick Osterloh, which all suggests some kind of Google gaming hardware plan may be in the works.