Even amid controversies threatening the very core of its business model, Google still manages to innovate and expand its portfolio to entirely new segments.
It did so once already in very recent memory, i.e. the Pixel 3 series late last year, taking the tech media news cycle by storm even as the full details of its Google+ security scandal were emerging.
The current situation isn't ideal either, between political pressure from both sides of the ideological aisle in the U.S. becoming more intense by the day and a vocal portion of consumers still protesting the firm's decision to drop a number of its niche apps like Inbox by Gmail. Regardless, Google now appears to be on the verge of introducing an even more unconventional gadget compared to the hardware it launched over the last several years. The move is likely to change the contents of the average discussion involving Google's name in the coming days, largely for the better.
As for what's coming, the company's decision to join this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco has been known for over a month and most possibilities have already been debated to death. As things stand right now, we're expecting a streaming box or dongle in the vein of Valve's Steam Link, but one designed to connect to Google's servers in order to render games and send them to the client instead of leaving users to figure things out themselves, starting with a gaming PC worth in the ballpark of $2,000 or much more.
The GDC 2019 stream is scheduled to start in just under an hour, at 8 AM PST, i.e. 1 PM EST or 5 PM GMT.
If that sounds familiar, it's because NVIDIA has been offering something similar with the GeForce Now service for several years already. Sony's been in the game with the PlayStation Now service for a while as well, whereas some larger developer-publishers like Capcom and Ubisoft have been experimenting with similar solutions on consoles in recent years. E.g. Japanese owners of the Switch handheld have the opportunity to play everything from Resident Evil 7 to Assassin's Creed Odyssey despite the fact Nintendo's gadget is nowhere near powerful enough to run them locally, also thanks to small-scale streaming operations.
What could Google offer that NVIDIA and other industry players aren't doing already? The most obvious answer would be "accessibility."The GeForce Now is planned to be priced at around $25 per 20 hours of gameplay as its monthly costs will come down to actual play time instead of a fixed fee. That's an unsurprising choice in this software-as-a-service era but naturally not a particularly popular one among gamers, many of whom are looking at streaming precisely because they cannot afford a console or a high-end PC capable of playing the latest AAA video games.
Together with a dedicated software suite, the upcoming gadget is expected to be advertised as the Google Stream, Alphabet's subsidiary already filing to trademark that term with the USPTO late last month. The company's partnership with Ubisoft which started with an unconventional game-hosting solution in mid-2018 and continued with the Project Stream experiment until several weeks back is expected to enter a new chapter with the launch of what's essentially Google's first dedicated gaming console.