What could a Google gaming platform look like?

Google is reportedly looking at entering the video game market, with a streaming platform set to rival Xbox and PlayStation.

Codenamed ‘Yeti’, the under-wraps project would look to offload the processing requirements of high-end games to its own off-site server, allowing standard smart TVs or even budget PCs to replicate the performance of much more advanced hardware.

A report from Kotaku suggested Google may have held meetings with developers at GDC and E3 this year to gauge interest in its streaming platform, and to attempt to bring studios in-house to work on its own Yeti titles.

What we may see is a possible Netflix-style streaming service for games, one that could sit alongside other media apps on your Google Chromecast or similar hardware – or even be played in a tab on the Google Chrome browser.

Room for one more?

Some of you may be thinking, do we really need another home console? And it’s a fair question to ask.

But the runaway success of the Nintendo Switch has certainly shown there’s room for more than two major consoles on the market, as long as players are being offered something distinctly different.

Gaming companies are certainly keeping an eye on the future of streaming, which could potentially kill off the need for expensive home consoles. Both Sony and Xbox already offer subscription services for access to a wide library of titles, though Xbox Game Pass still relies on downloads for offline use, and Sony is looking to replicate that feature with their own PlayStation Now.

We've been here before

There’s a reason why these streaming platforms don’t exist in a big way yet, and that’s because it’s really very hard to get it to work.

Games simply require a lot more bandwidth than TV shows or films. Sony’s PlayStation Now service already allows PS owners to stream titles into their homes, but it requires a very stable, fast internet connection. The capability of someone’s internet still varies hugely depending on their provider, router, and where in the country – and in what country – they live.

A high-profile attempt at a Netflix-for-games model came by way of OnLive, a dedicated streaming service for games that generated a lot of hype – and capital – with its plans to bring high-end gaming to standard PCs, Macs, and smart TVs. But the service suffered with numerous connection and video compression issues, and was eventually subsumed by Sony in 2015 in order to help develop its own PlayStation Now service.

Google is likely looking at the long-term, with internet speeds gradually increasing worldwide, and the promise of 5G set to vastly improve over-the-air downloads. But unless Google can create a seamless streaming experience and overcome the connection issues still facing countless gamers worldwide, it’ll face an uphill battle getting Yeti into people’s homes.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.