According to a new teaser, the company will reveal its "vision for the future of gaming" at GDC next Tuesday.
Ahead of its appearance at the Game Developers Conference this month, Google has dropped another hint about its contribution to modern gaming. Though the company had announced its gaming-oriented Gather Around event last month, a new teaser suggests that something big will be revealed concerning its developing games sector.
Google posted some brief footage on its Twitter account on Wednesday, along with a caption that said the Gather Around event would see Google unveil its “vision for the future of gaming” at the conference next Tuesday.
Being a teaser, there's not much to go on. The footage itself looks the way a virtual reality tech demo might, gliding through neon-shaded cities, medieval hallways and luminous mushroom caves with increasing speed. It’s unlikely that virtual reality will be the focus of Gather Around, though, as ongoing rumours have predicted that Google is about to launch its own video game streaming service.
There'll be a hardware component
As reported by The Information last year, the service is part of a gaming initiative codenamed ‘Yeti’. Similar to PlayStation Now, the Google service would allow anyone with a subscription to play games listed on its service, without needing to install them on their system. Given that download times and data storage are becoming increasingly troublesome as games continue to be scaled up, the Google system could be a significant competitor when it releases.
A report by Kotaku has since confirmed the project also involves a hardware component, however, and indeed a patent was recently discovered for a controller presumably intended for use with the streaming service.
According to the patent, the controller will notify players of a game invitation, chat messages and changes in leaderboards. It also looks to be implementable on devices other than TV screens, with the patent stating the controller could be used to activate tablets, monitors and smartphones, choosing which screen to stream the visual content onto.
Though by the sound of the patent, the controller may only be able to stream content onto one screen at a time, future developments could offer a promising contribution to local multiplayer set-ups. While split-screen is sadly rare nowadays, separating gameplay onto separate device screens sounds an attractive idea.
Equally, there's a spot of Nintendo Switch-style accessibility in the patent's proposal; being able to transfer easily from TV to smartphone, for example, could certainly prove useful for de-escalating household scuffles over who gets the TV remote.
It'll likely support voice activation
The included concept image resembles a PlayStation-Xbox One hybrid, complete with the expected two-stick controls, shoulder and trigger buttons and various gameplay functions. Unlike those controllers, however, there is the microphone button positioned in the centre of the gamepad, which will likely allow players to control the streaming interface with their voice as they might with Google on their smartphone. Although, it could also prove a very nifty way to tap in and out of voice chat while gaming.
One Twitter account even expanded upon the concept image to show what it could look like as a final product:
But...people aren't in love with the design
Yet, despite the impressive rendering, several in the gaming community have taken issue with the controller, and have criticised its general design on Twitter:
New google controller. It's okay, I'm sure they checked that these face buttons were distinguishable to for the colour-blind without a symbol let me ju—oh my god. (Protanopia, Deuteranopia, Tritanopia) pic.twitter.com/afUwFZp1e5— firstname.lastname@example.org (Mastodon) (@michelmcbride) March 9, 2019
My hands hurt looking at it— Stephen (@MonkeysxMoo35) March 9, 2019
PS3 controller: I’m the most uncomfortable controller in modern gaming.— LateNightPizzaTime (@LateNightHalo) March 9, 2019
Google: Hold my Beer https://t.co/i0yfiUBKhm
Google's gaming controller revealed. Made for the hands of REAL GAMERS pic.twitter.com/MFzOCzNs2O— Morgan Tremaine (@MorganTremaine) March 9, 2019
Given, it doesn’t look particularly comfy to hold, and the first tweet raises a valid point about the potential issues the controller could create for colour blind players. It’s worth remembering that these images are only a concept render, however, and these initial issues might could be addressed before the actual controller is released.
The Game Developers Conference spans from the 18th March 2019 until 22nd March 2019. Google's Gather Around event will take place on the 19th March at 10AM PT – around 5PM in the UK.