Google announced Monday (Oct. 1) that it’s launching Project Stream, a “technical test” that will allow users to stream video games directly to the Google Chrome internet browser. On Oct. 5, Google will let a limited amount of users try out the service for free by playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which will be released by Ubisoft worldwide on the same day.
Video games typically require downloads and installs from third-party clients that take up hardware space—but Google’s new project suggests that might no longer be necessary. All Project Stream requires is a Google account, Chrome, and an internet connection capable of 25 megabits per second. (If you have all of that and are over the age of 17, and live in the US, you can try to sign up for Project Stream here.)
Google doesn’t provide much detail on the technology behind the test, but to be able to stream a video game through a browser in the same way as a TV series, or even just music, is impressive. In a blog post, Google product manager Catherine Hsiao explains:
“The idea of streaming such graphically-rich content that requires near-instant interaction between the game controller and the graphics on the screen poses a number of challenges. When streaming TV or movies, consumers are comfortable with a few seconds of buffering at the start, but streaming high-quality games requires latency measured in milliseconds, with no graphic degradation.”
Project Stream is designed to support the “massive scale of the world in which the game unfolds, down to every last blade of grass,” Hsiao says. Google backed up this claim with a sneak peak of gameplay capture posted to YouTube today.
Companies including Microsoft and Sony have also been focused on video streaming technology, but Ars Technica points out that Google’s experience running some of the most bandwidth-intensive sites on the internet gives it an edge. While Project Stream was only just announced, The Information reported this February that Google was exploring a subscription-based streaming service codenamed Yeti. The tech giant also reportedly had meetings with various companies at video game conference E3 in Los Angeles earlier this year, which were also linked to the rumored launch of a streaming service.