[Hands-on] Project Stream lets you play High-End Games on any PC
Project Stream is Google’s new game streaming service for computers running Google Chrome. A couple of us on the XDA Portal Team applied for early access to this service and three of us got into it. Project Stream is limited to only Assassins Creed Odyssey right now for this test. This game, which just launched on October 5th. will be available to all the Project Stream testers for free during the duration of the experiment. Google will likely use this as a test for Project Yeti, which will run off of devices like the Chromecast.
When you first try Project Stream, it checks your network speed. It will automatically check everything and compare it to the minimum requirements. The supported operating systems which support Project Stream are Windows, macOS X, ChromeOS, and Linux. You can use a PS4 Dual Shock controller and Xbox 360 controller on every device. The Xbox One controller works on Windows, macOS X, and Linux. None of these controllers work in a wireless mode. Wireless mice and keyboards will work on all platforms though.
To use Project Stream you are required to have a Google account, a Ubisoft account, a computer running Google Chrome version 69 or higher, and a form of controlling the device. You are also required to have a reliable network connection. Google doesn’t give us a minimum number in the support forums, but they recommend 25 Mbps for stable and smooth 1080p 60fps gameplay.
How good is the gameplay?
I played about 30 minutes of Assassins Creed Odyssey. During this time playing, I was able to get a good sense of the service. It is really good for being a Google project, but it is by no means perfect. While I was using it, I never experienced any really bad input lag. It felt pretty lag free throughout the entire experience. The only issue was with the graphics. Google was obviously prioritizing input lag over graphics. At points, you can’t even tell what’s happening in the game because of the graphics quality being so degraded. This happened two or three times during my experience and it took around 30 to 45 seconds to figure itself out.
These issues with the graphical glitches are important to get fixed. The issue could have been with my network or the network connection in general. This is bound to happen while streaming a video game at 1080p 60fps. The network needs to be very stable while playing. My network connection was running at 289 Mbps download and 32 Mbps upload before my game session started. These network glitches which caused the graphics to degrade were either on my end or on Googles end. I don’t know which one yet. I did get a notification about some network instability which I chose to ignore. It was constant after the first time I got it.
This video is a short one I got of the gaming session. I recorded this on my PC using OBS in medium quality. The recording has some issues with audio de-sync which I apologize for. This means it is 1080p 60fps with minimum compression. My full PC specs are in the description of the video, but the basics are an Intel i7-6700k CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1080 ti Zotac amp extreme core edition GPU. I also tested this on a 4-year-old Dell Inspiron laptop with the same experience in the game. Both times I played with my network connected via an Ethernet cable.
The actual experience of using Project Stream is pretty seamless. You go to the Project Stream website and if you have access to the experiment, you get a button that says “Play.” It will bring you here once it checks your network connection. All you do is press play and it will force your game into full screen. The game then starts. It doesn’t require any outside programs or extensions built into Chrome. When your game session is in full screen it will override all keyboard inputs. This means that you can’t rage quit and hit ALT F4 and close your game quickly. It will cancel that so you are forced to stay in the game. To exit the game you just hold the escape key until it closes.
NVIDIA GeForce Now vs Project Stream
I am currently a member of the NVIDIA GeForce Now beta. GeForce Now currently has the same type of shortcomings as Project Stream. NVIDIA’s service does have a few advantages over the Project Stream experiment. NVIDIA GeForce Now supports different modes like 720p 120fps or 1080p 60fps. It works really well but has issues on lower network quality. Google’s Project Stream does have much better input lag compared to NVIDIA GeForce Now but GeForce Now does have a better graphics streaming experience.
Google’s streaming service is definitely an early test. It is really good for the first public test. There is a lot that Google can do with this, like opening up the service to more games. This has a lot of potential, especially if they add support for Google Chromecast or dedicated Google hardware. This service will get a lot better over time as Google optimizes it. Google will probably open this up to more games after this first beta session ends. Sign up here to try out Project Stream