Some details about the gaming controller have become a bit more clear following the listing of new device images and diagrams, recently noticed at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The images are notably not necessarily representative of the overall look and design of the controller but do provide key insight into the device's general layout and just how seriously Google is taking its gaming endeavor — codenamed Project Stream.
The example controller provided doesn't differentiate too much from the current designs in use for game consoles or computers. At the center of everything is an "action button" that is circular and seems to be touch-based, judging by the associated images.
Two "controller buttons" appear just above the action button and to either left- and right-hand side. One shown with a home-shaped icon and the other with a three-dash icon. That could change before the design is finalized but would seem to indicate a button to return the system to the home and options that are contextually decided by the title being played.
A directional pad button, two analog sticks, and the standard four-button pad are found on the front too, while dual triggers can be found at the back on both sides. In the center of the back is a port that appears to be for charging.
The one button that does appear out of place — but goes unmarked in the patent — is the key resting at the center between the two control sticks. The button bears a microphone icon and could point to Google Assistant integration or chat features of some sort if it makes the cut in the final design.
What we know so far about Project Stream
News about Project Stream is only just news at this point since the service underwent testing not too long ago via a Chrome browser experience tied in with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. Participants in the trial were able to effectively stream the game in all of its glory through their browser over an internet connection through January.
No big problems seem to have stemmed from the beta test either, suggesting the service is very close to completion.
Prior to the latest patent being spotted, Project Steam has been compared to video streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon. It's also thought to be heavily based on the technology behind Google's own Chromecast. So, once in place, it will likely be a subscription service that enables users to access full PC games over the cloud.
Project Stream does appear to require special hardware such a streaming stick to go along with the subscription too, with the patent referencing connection between the controller and a "host" device. Conversely, that could imply a host device running Google Chrome, similar to the test project mentioned here, instead of dedicated gaming hardware.
This service could land very soon
Google is currently expected to unveil Project Stream as an official product at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. The company has announced a keynote for the games-heavy event to take place midway through on Tuesday, March 19th at 10 AM Pacific Daylight Time.
Whether or not the newly spotted controller is revealed at the same time, hosting a keynote at the event is unusual for the search giant. So there will almost certainly be some game-related news — likely the service itself at a minimum — announced. If the full service is unveiled, it shouldn't be too much longer before users can get started using it.
The timing of the expected announcement and the new patent for a controller additionally lines up with a growing apparent threat from some of Google's biggest competitors. Alongside Sony's streaming game service, PlayStation Now, and Microsoft's Project xCloud, Amazon has been working to push itself into the gaming industry. So Google will probably want to push the service forward into the hands of consumers as soon as feasibly possible.