/Google Stadia exclusives push potential players to data centers [Updated]

Google Stadia exclusives push potential players to data centers [Updated]

Screenshot from teaser for upcoming video game Orcs Must Die 3.
/ Artist’s rendering of players that aren’t interested in game streaming reacting to news that
Orcs Must Die 3 is a Stadia exclusive.

[Update (7:45pm ET): In a “clarification” post on Reddit this evening, Robot Entertainment CEO Patrick Hudson said that Orcs Must Die 3 would be a timed exclusive for Stadia, but the company wouldn’t say how long that timing would last. This is a relatively standard setup for third-party exclusive games these days.

“OMD3 would not be possible today without Google’s support,” Hudson wrote. “They are behind the game in a big way. We’ve hired more developers to bring it to life. It;s the OMD game that fans of the first two games have been wanting, and we’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to make it.”]

Original Story

Excited to get back to the silly tower-defense action of Orcs Must Die with the series’ next upcoming sequel? You’d better be ready to do so via a streaming high-speed Internet connection. That’s because Google and Robot Entertainment announced today that Orcs Must Die 3 will be a Google Stadia exclusive when the game launches in spring of 2020.

In a Stadia Connect announcement today, Robot Entertainment CEO Patrick Hudson said Google invited his team to check out Stadia back in January of 2018, well before the service’s public announcement earlier this year. “Right away it was a fantastic experience,” he said. “I immediately saw it as the next transformative platform coming to the industry.”

Design Director Jerome Jones was also on hand in the video to stress how, thanks to Stadia’s centralized servers, the game will feature massive armies with 500 monsters clustered together in a tight space. Orcs Must Die 3 players won’t be “subject to the power of their machine… everyone gets that same massive power,” Jones said.

Up the stream without a paddle

Those Stadia players will, of course, be subject to Stadia’s bandwidth requirements, which
start at a recommended minimum of 10Mbps as well as
potential added latency from the Internet roundtrip to and from Stadia’s data centers. That’s par for the course for Stadia games, but as a Stadia exclusive,
Orcs Must Die 3 won’t even offer potential players the option of downloading a local copy to play without an Internet connection.

While Orcs Must Die 3 is the highest-profile exclusive announced for Stadia thus far, it’s not the first one to be revealed. Back in June, Google announced Overcooked-style party game Get Packed as a Stadia exclusive from newcomer studio Moonshine. RiME developer Tequila Works also announced moody platformer Gylt as a Stadia exclusive that month. But the company later threw some cold water on that announcement: co-founder and creative director Raúl Rubio Munárriz contradicted the game’s own public trailer by telling Eurogamer “we haven’t confirmed that it’s an exclusive yet… that’s a question we cannot answer.”

Google hasn’t been shy about its ambitions for exclusive Stadia content, with Google Head of Stadia Games and Entertainment Jade Raymond saying back in March that the company was creating a first-party publishing house just for such games. Google’s Phil Harrison said such games might be able to take advantage of “distributed physics” and “complex multiplayer going from hundreds to tens of thousands in a very sophisticated world” by focusing on Stadia’s powerful servers.

“With cloud gaming, particularly the idea of compute being sharable across multiple CPUs in a data center, now this transition to gaming being data-centric is going to a really fundamental shift,” Harrison
said in April.

Stadia’s exclusivity ambitions come amid controversy surrounding Epic’s continuing efforts to buy as many exclusives as possible for the Epic Games Store. With those games, though, PC gamers are merely faced with the prospect of downloading a free launcher to play the “exclusive.” With Stadia exclusives, though, potential players had better get used to the idea of getting set for remote game streaming if they want to try certain games.