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Google is working on a controller for its secretive game streaming service

Days ahead of mysterious Google gaming event, patent shows what the controller could look like

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Google is hosting a media event during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco later this month, where it is expected to talk about a new video game streaming service.

Now, just days ahead of that event, a patent belonging to Google has been discovered, showing a video game controller and explaining how it would work.

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The patent, filed back in October 2018 and made public at the end of January 2019, is titled 'Notifications on Game Controller', and describes a system where the gamepad is used to control video games on a so-called 'host device'.

What Google appears to be working on here is a game controller which can work with a wide range of compatible devices. For example, you could play a game on a television, then switch to a tablet and use that as the display when someone else wants to use the TV.

In essence, Google is believed to be working on a 'Netflix for video games', where the content can be streamed on a wide range of devices, and the processing is done by Google's servers instead of on a console owned by the gamer. This would be a similar system to OnLive, a video game streaming service which launched in 2010 but shut down after being acquired by Sony in 2015.

Patent sketch shows a classic video game controllerGoogle

The abstract of Google's patent describes a "seamless activation of a game or other application on a host device from a game controller. The game may be launched on the host device in response to an activation signal that is dispatched from the game controller."

Put simply, this sounds like a system where the controller is the heart of the system, telling the host device - such as an internet-connected TV, computer, smartphone or tablet - what game to display on its screen.

The patent also explains how your account details could be saved on the controller, making it easy to pick up a game where you left off, whether you start playing on a different screen, or at a different location.



Sketches accompanying the patent show a classically-designed video game controller, complete with two thumb sticks, directional and action buttons, triggers on the back, and a microphone icon. The latter could mean the integration of the Google Assistant, or simply point to a service for talking with fellow gamers.

Google intends a notification system described by the patent to be used to tell users when a game is ready to play, when friends are online, and when they want to chat. Gamers who use Xbox Live and other online services will be familiar with such a system.

We expect to hear more about Google's gaming plans at its event, which takes place at 10am PT / 1pm ET on March 19, at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. "Gather around," Google's cryptic invitation says, adding: "All will be revealed".

It is likely that whatever is announced will build on the foundations built by Google's Project Stream, a trial where games can be streamed through the Chrome web browser. Limited to just a single game, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, for now, Project Stream's public tests wrapped up in January, suggesting a fully-fledged service will follow shortly.


(Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Google Home and Home Mini)

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