Google is at work on a new video game service codenamed Yeti, which could be a gamechanger in the field. Yeti will let people play video games via a streaming service rather than using downloads or disks, which could ultimately eliminate the need for dedicated consoles or a high-end gaming computer.
According to gaming industry insiders speaking to The Information last week, Yeti is scheduled to launch in time for the 2019 holidays; although they also said that Google is behind schedule (apparently it was originally intended to release in late 2017) and the 2019 date may also move.
Google has not released any comment on the initiative, but rumors say that Yeti could allow users to stream games to Chromecast-compatible devices, or possibly via its own dedicated Google streaming box. Users would be charged a subscription fee, similar to PlayStation Now.
Sony launched its own PlayStation Now streaming service back in 2014, which for a $19.95 monthly fee (or $100 annual fee) offers unlimited access to over 600 games. It has struggled to find a large audience for the site, partly because of the comparatively high pricing and an older catalog of games. It also relies upon a fairly expensive PC or console to work.
One of the biggest challenges with live streaming of games is game-lag. The tech has only recently become good enough to make game streaming possible at all. Google could potentially host games on servers in the cloud and only send graphical data to the individual user, drastically reducing the potential amount of computing power a user would need. The challenge is that it puts a large strain on your Internet service and the provider’s infrastructure.
In 2014, Google nearly acquired video game streaming service Twitch for $1B; Amazon ended up buying it instead for that same amount. Google has also made other forays into game development in the past, but they’ve been canceled, so there’s no telling if Yeti will indeed see a release.
Google did recently bring on board Phil Harrison, former head of Sony’s network of game studios and previously a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. The project is reportedly being overseen by two hardware executives at Google – Mario Queiroz, VP of product management, and Majd Bakar, VP of engineering, which Ars Technica suggested implies that new hardware seems likely if and when Yeti does launch.