AT&T and Google Bring ‘Control’ Game Streaming to Phones, Tablets and PCs

AT&T said Monday that Control: Ultimate Edition is available on Play Now, its game streaming service backed by Google Stadia tech, showcasing 5G’s ability to power high-bandwidth, low-latency experiences on phones and tablets

Play Now, available to postpaid customers, allows gamers to stream games to their phones, tablets and PCs at no additional cost. Players can jump in and try a game without having to wade through a lengthy download and install process as the service is akin to Netflix.

Since Play Now works via Google’s Immersive Stream for Games, rendering takes place on servers and the game feed is streamed to users. This does introduce a slight latency, because data from a button press has to communicate with servers, process and stream back an on-screen response. 

The award-winning game Control is also a computationally intensive game, using complex physics systems and ray tracing, an expensive method for rendering light realistically throughout a game world. Running Control at its fullest requires an expensive gaming PC. 

Game streaming services such as Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now can handle ultra-level game rendering, allowing gamers to play at high-fidelity with a subscription cost. AT&T says its 5G network is able to stream games with low lag. 

“We imagine publishers could utilize the combination of 5G connectivity and cloud streaming technology to offer limited time play sessions directly from a search result,” said AT&T in a press release. “This gives gamers the option to try before they buy.”

Google’s Immersive Stream gives the company’s Stadia tech greater use and flexibility. Stadia launched in 2019 with much press attention, but slowly fizzled. In 2021, Google shut down its internal game studio and its head of product, John Justice, left the company. Jade Raymond, the creator of Assassin’s Creed, left her role as vice president to start an independent studio in 2021 as well. Since then, Google hasn’t been promoting Stadia with much vigor. It wasn’t mentioned at Google I/O earlier this month either. Google is pivoting Stadia to being a white-label partner, striking deals with other companies, per a report by Business Insider.

The AT&T-Google deal “underlines our ability to offer advanced streaming technology, the right tools to port games easily, powerful discovery features and the analytics necessary to optimize a direct-to-consumer business,” said Dov Zimring, head of product for Immersive Stream for Games at Google in a statement. 

This isn’t the first time AT&T has experimented with game streaming. Last year, the telecom giant gave gamers Batman: Arkham Knight to play via a web browser. According to AT&T, “tens of thousands” of its customers enjoyed playing as the caped crusader. 

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