Google May Enter Game Streaming With Own Console: Report

Google is seeking to enter the video game market with a streaming service code-named "Yeti" which is meant to work with either Chromecasts or an in-house console, The Information reported Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the company's effort. The insiders backing the report weren't certain whether the Alphabet-owned tech giant already decided on commercializing a gaming console but its streaming service is supposedly in active development and should fit any such hardware if it's efficient enough be powered by Chromecasts. The initial version of the platform is understood to have been designed with the firm's TV stick in mind, yet Google has reportedly also been experimenting with dedicated hardware for enabling the platform, i.e. a console that streams games instead of saving their files locally.

Both prototypes included a proprietary controller used for playing the games streamed over Yeti, with the project itself already being pitched to some major developers, insiders claim. No known partnerships have emerged as part of the initial talks and it's still unclear how Google is intending to overcome the traditional technical challenges associated with streaming games. While game streaming services have been in development by multiple startups in recent years, the ultra-low latency and high bandwidth demands of such solutions still make them largely unsuitable for users, primarily due to input lag. 5G fixed wireless access technologies may address the majority of such concerns but they aren't expected to be commercially available on any significant scale prior to 2019. Verizon is the only telecom giant in the U.S. that's actively pursuing such networks, touting them as broadband alternatives. Yeti reportedly leverages Google Cloud's infrastructure but no specifics regarding its capabilities have been shared by the sources. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant is supposedly planning to monetize it with traditional monthly subscriptions should it end up commercializing the service.

The Yeti project is said to be led by Google Engineering VP Majd Bakar and Product Management VP Mario Queiroz, with the service itself being in development for at least two years and the firm initially planning to launch it before the 2017 holiday season. The reasons behind the supposed delay remain unclear, as does the current status of the project, though the platform is understood to be targeted at streaming non-mobile games, hence being different than offerings like Rovio's Hatch. Google recently showed renewed interest in gaming by signing off on a $76.8 million investment in Chushou TV, a Twitch-like game broadcasting platform available in China.

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