The biggest rumor to come out of E3 2018 has so far been on whether Google is actually working on a console, codenamed Yeti, that’s meant to rival Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Given that the tech giant have dipped their toes in numerous technological and multimedia projects over the years, video games are a no-brainer at this point. While Google themselves have been keeping quiet over the matter, there are quite a number of things we know about this elusive console known as the Yeti.
1) Platform Woes
Whether it actually is a console remains to be seen as the operative word being tossed around is a “platform”. Now sure most consoles are platforms as well, but the word platform includes services like Steam, Origin, and the Play Store as well. So whether the Yeti will be just a new gaming platform or a whole new console remains to be seen.
This is based on the fact that Google has their own hardware in the form of phones and such, as well as a whole pool of services like Google Chrome and YouTube. With their wide breadth of products and services, the possibilities are endless.
2)To Stream Or Not To Stream
From the sources that are available to us, it seems that the Google Yeti is also a streaming service, streaming games to gamers through a cloud, similar to PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now service for the PC.
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier posits the notion that the Yeti is a games streaming service and a home console all together. While it seems very likely to be an Android based console, it’s the streaming aspect that has people intrigued. Will it be a Netflix kind of deal where you have to pay a monthly subscription to play the games you want? Will it only be streamable to the Yeti console, or will you be able to play it on any Google device? “Imagine playing The Witcher 3 on a tab in Google Chrome” is what was described to Schreier during E3 by a person familiar with the project.
3) It’s Been Done Before (Sort Of)
A tech giant going into the gaming industry isn’t exactly brand new; Sony did it, Microsoft did it, and to a lesser extent Apple did it too way back when. While the first two companies has since found success in these endeavours, the Apple Pippin was notoriously bad and Apple has not tried their hand in console gaming ever since.
An Android based console isn’t a foreign concept either, the first thing that comes to mind is the ill-fated OUYA, a Kickstarted microconsole that didn’t live up to its campaign promises. Another failed games streaming console was OnLive, which was eventually sold off to Sony and became the groundwork for their PlayStation Now service.
4) What Went On In E3
The main gist of Google’s presence at E3 was to approach big name companies to be exclusive developers for their new platform. So far, we’re not sure on who they approached, but Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Microsoft Head of Gaming Phil Spencer both made comments on how game streaming is the future. Whether they’re referring to the Yeti is not clear. They might just be referring to the inevitable PS5 or Xbox Two.
Speaking of the next generation of consoles, Microsoft and Sony are both aiming for a 2020-2021 release for their next iteration of consoles. Is the Yeti out to compete against the current generation or the next?
5) Google’s Trump Card
From what we can tell, Google is really hoping to make a big wave with this new platform. They have been slowly acquiring big name gaming companies, which seems to be a move to bolster the Yeti. In 2014, they took over the streaming website Twitch. Twitch has now since become a major streaming platform for games and more, with many people finding success on the platform. The Yeti might just come equipped with Twitch functionality.
Niantic, the studio behind Pokemon Go, was also incubated by Google. With the massive success of Pokemon Go, Niantic might just equip the Yeti with all matter of AR functionality and maybe a brand new IP exclusive to the platform. In January 2018, they hired Phil Harrison, an executive who have worked with both Sony and Microsoft before. He may be the man spearheading the Yeti to its highest potential.
Overall, it’s an exciting time for the videogames industry. We haven’t been buzzed by a brand-new console by a new company entering the market since the original Xbox. We hope to hear more about the Yeti soon and its elusive status as a gaming platform.