Stadia has had a rough run so far, related in large part to a lack of compelling games in its library. Now, it seems Google is ready to remove a roadblock to bringing games to Stadia, with support for “unmodified” Windows titles on the cloud gaming platform.
Next week, on March 15, Google will host the “Google for Games Developer Summit” which will be a developer-focused event talking about Android, Google Play Games for PC, and Stadia. One session within the event has caught the attention of many in the Stadia community for good reason – it teases that Google is opening the door to more Windows games running on Stadia.
The session’s description reads:
How to write a Windows emulator for Linux from scratch?
Detailed overview of the technology behind Google’s solution for running unmodified Windows games on Stadia. This is a deep technical walkthrough of some of the core concepts with the goal to allow curious programmers to better understand such technologies and potentially to build their own.
Google has yet to provide any information beyond that, but that blurb alone offers a lot of insight into what’s coming. Stadia, if you weren’t already aware, runs on top of a Linux base. That’s not exactly a bad thing, but it does mean that there’s a little bit more work in bringing games to Stadia from the developer point-of-view, especially if that title doesn’t have an existing Linux port – while not quite uncommon, it’s not hard to find games on Steam, for example, that lack Linux support. Windows, on the other hand, has become the go-to platform for gaming. It’s likely part of the reason that Amazon Luna was built on top of Windows.
Notably, Google previously announced a “Stadia Porting Toolkit” that had the goal of making it significantly easier to change APIs in a Windows game. Based on Google’s description, it’s very likely that this porting toolkit is at least related to, if not exactly what the company is announcing next week. Valve also recently put a heavier emphasis on Proton for the sake of the Steam Deck, a tool that makes Windows games playable on Linux.
In theory, removing a point of friction for Stadia to get games from the vast library of Windows-compatible titles would open the door to a huge expansion with relative ease for developers. As someone who plays a lot of games on Windows, and would love to be able to access those same titles on Stadia’s frictionless cloud platform — as great as GeForce Now performs, setup is still a bit of a nightmare — I sure hope things work out.
But at the same time, the other, arguably bigger point of friction that Google has to work against is Stadia’s public image. More games would attract more players, but the platform needs more players to actually attract developers. It’s a chicken or the egg situation, unfortunately.
More on Stadia:
- Google Stadia adding Cities: Skylines, Overcooked, and Golf With Your Friends starting in April
- Stadia 4.6 for Android prepares motion controls, touch gamepad revamp, more
- Stadia Changelog: ‘Deliver Us the Moon’ arrives in April, a few other games incoming
*Updated to correct an erroneous statement about Proton
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