Game Developer Conference (GDC 2019) preview: What to expect from Google, Oculus, Microsoft, Epic, Steam and more

By Sameer Mitha | Published on Mar 18 2019
Game Developer Conference (GDC 2019) preview: What to expect from Google, Oculus, Microsoft, Epic, Steam and more
HIGHLIGHTS

GDC is literally hours away and we list the best things we expect to come out from the Game Developer Conference 2019.

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The Game Developer Conference, as the name suggests, is a place for developers to come and talk about, well, game development. This isn't the event where we can expect AAA announcements from hardware makers like Sony and Microsoft. But it is the event where some news comes up about the hardware powering the upcoming consoles' architectures, APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) design, new gaming engines and more. It is also the arena where developers get their hands on the engines and see what can be achieved during the life cycle of the hardware. In the past, we have seen some significant announcements take place at GDC. The original Xbox design was shown off by Bill Gates at GDC. Just last year we got to see ray tracing in action before NVIDIA announced their 20 series cards. DirectX 12, the Oculus Go, the Nintendo Wii and more were spoken about at GDC in the past and some were even shown off at the event before their grand unveiling to the public. Even the PS VR got a lot of attention at GDC. Indie games like Absolver that have become hits got unveiled for the first time at GDC. So there are games to look forward to at GDC as well. Although some major announcements will be held back for E3 2019, which is a few months away.

GDC 2019 is going to be super exciting for a lot of reason and even if the information isn't revealed to the public, developers and publishers alone are going to have nerdgasms checking out upcoming technologies behind closed doors. So here is a list of things we expect to see at GDC 2019.

Google Project Stream

In October 2018 Google unleashed Project Stream to the US population. People could sign up and test the search giant’s cloud-based gaming service. The game being offered was no slouch. It was Assassins Creed Odyssey, an open-world game filled with things to do. It was a great game for such a test as it tested the ability to render an open world perform, precise action moves for combat and interact with NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) in the game. Since then Google has filed for a patent for a controller and we think it will show off the design at GDC 2019. Can we expect a streaming console from Google at the event?

With the likes of Sony, Microsoft and more already harnessing the power of the cloud with their services, it's no wonder Gooogle wants a piece of the pie. Google has been in the streaming business for a while, so we expect the service to be a strong offering with minimal hardware requirement from the consumer's end. 

Google Mobile Developer Day

Tonight, Google has its Mobile Developer Day at GDC and those interested can watch it in the embed below. 

Mobile gaming is big especially in a country like India. With the number of free, freemium games and paid games that are harnessing the power of the little device in your pocket, it is only natural to wonder what comes next for mobile gaming. Streaming PC games to smartphones is nothing new. We have seen it with services like Shadow and you can stream your PS4 games to your iOS device or Sony smartphone thanks to Remote Play. What will be interesting is a Project Stream-like service for the smartphone. 

PUBG has taken India by storm on smartphones and mobile gaming as a phenomenon has given dedicated handheld consoles a run for their money. Just ask Sony and Nintendo. We think some serious emphasis will be placed on mobile gaming at GDC 2019.

Microsoft xCloud

At a recent episode of Inside Xbox, Microsoft showed off Project xCloud in action. Though it was a brief demo, it was incredible to see Forza Horizon 4 in action on an Android smartphone playable via a standard Xbox One controller. There is little known about Project xCloud apart from the fact that Microsoft will begin public trials this year. Rumour mills are also churning out information about a discless Xbox One for streaming only. What this box is for is something we will only know when it is announced.

Microsoft wants to harness the power of its Azure Cloud and with Xbox services hitting Nintendo’s Switch. With Microsoft hinting at the possibility of their services on competing consoles, we think Microsoft has a lot of cloud goodness up its sleeve.

More cloud gaming

We have services like PlayStation Now, Shadow, Hatch Entertainment and more already functioning in certain parts of the world. However, none of them is truly a global service with functionality restricted to a few countries. We think this year we will see the penetration of cloud gaming in more markets where internet is easily available. With the power of cloud gaming, we think more people will be attracted to playing console-quality games without investing in the hardware. 

New console hardware

A lot of developers share tips, tricks and learnings on how to harness the power of a console at GDC. With 2019 being the year of the revealing of the PS5 and the next Xbox, some information may drop about the upcoming consoles. We already have a close look at the specs running on the systems and you can read about the specs of the upcoming consoles here. We may get some more information about the upcoming consoles and some games that may serve as launch titles or cross-gen titles for the systems.

Epic Store vs Steam

Fortnite was the Golden Goose for Epic ensuring the Epic store was downloaded on millions of PCs around the world. With a sizable install base, the Epic Store was ready to take on the grandaddy of online game stores, Steam. Nabbing exclusives like Metro Exodus and Division 2 to the Epic store may be a feather in the service's cap. But the service hasn't been perfect. Recently, the Epic store was found copying a user's Steam data. You can read more about that here

It is likely that we will see some updates to the two stores along with some lucrative offers for customers to stick to either one. Could this be the opportunity for Valve to finally announce Half-Life 3?

Oculus VR

Oculus has posted a blog highlighting its keynotes for GDC 2019. Oculus announced the Oculus GO at GDC, so is it possible that the company will announce a successor to the untethered VR headset? Or better still, will we finally get all the details we want about the Oculus Quest? For those unaware, the Oculus Quest “is the world’s first all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality. Now you can play almost anywhere with just a VR headset and controllers”. On its official blog, the company said, “Game devs and gamers alike will get hands-on with Oculus Quest, we’ll share some brand-new Rift demos, and we may just have an announcement or two up our sleeves…”

What do you think will be the biggest highlight of GDC 2019? Will we get some juicy details on the new consoles? Will we see new hardware makers getting into the console race? Is cloud gaming the next big thing or is it the OnLive of this decade? Sound off in the comments below!

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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