It seems Google is testing a that lets you launch games from cloud streaming services (such as Google Stadia) with a single click from your search results.
As spotted by Bryant Chappel (via The Verge), if you search for a game that's available on a streaming service, you'll get a little Play button – click on that, and the title will launch on the relevant cloud gaming platform, right inside your browser.
Google does something similar with movies and TV shows in search: if there's a match on a streaming platform (like Netflix or Disney Plus), you'll see links to launch the content alongside the regular list of results.
It looks like the Google search engine has a new update for cloud gaming platforms!!!When searching for a game players can now launch a game directly from the search results utilizing @GoogleStadia. pic.twitter.com/xblOsBpF6OAugust 11, 2022
At the time of writing, Google hasn't officially commented on this trial, so it's possibly still in the testing stage and may not be appearing for everyone. It does appear to be available on both the desktop and mobile versions of the Google homepage, for those who have it.
As you would hope, it's not just Google Stadia that matches are shown for. The Play button also appears if games are on Amazon Luna, Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming - showing that perhaps that cloud gaming is more advanced, with more platforms people are signed into, than you might have imagined.
Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) games can also now be launched directly via the Google search results page. pic.twitter.com/LeYbBk7SFHAugust 11, 2022
Based on what people have been able to test so far, it's not quite a frictionless experience for all games on all streaming platforms (if you’re not signed in properly, or for things like XBox Cloud Gaming, you need to click on some prompts or sign into services), but that's to be expected for a feature that's only just appeared – and it will no doubt improve over time.
Analysis: the cloud is coming for gaming
Cloud gaming has yet to properly take off – you still need a very fast, low latency broadband connection to really make the most of it – but it's not difficult to see the appeal of being able to stream games over the web just like movies or music.
For a start, you don't have to buy any extra hardware, and the hardware you're running games on in the cloud is always state of the art.
The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 – something of a mess on every platform except cloud services, as updates were quick and seamless as the developers tried to iron out bugs as fast as possible – showed the benefits of having a hardware and software foundation that can be constantly tweaked.
And then there's the benefit of being able to play anywhere. You can't lug a PlayStation 5 down to the beach, but you can play online games through a browser on a tablet – assuming the vacation spot has a very strong Wi-Fi network, of course.
As time goes on, these cloud gaming services will get more polished and better at delivering games over the web, while connection speeds (both over Wi-Fi and cellular networks) are inevitably going to improve too.
Before too long, searching for a game and launching it right from the Google results page might become very common indeed.