Google may be reattempting to enter the console market with a streaming service

google chromecast ultra 2016
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Android “consoles” seem to come and go like the latest trend, but Google apparently wants to keep the dream alive by providing its own game-streaming platform and possibly a first-party console. The latest rumor pins down a project codenamed as “Yeti” targeting a subscription-based streaming service playable on Google’s Chromecast devices. That could mean Google plans to release a new version of Chromecast packing Bluetooth connectivity, and a compatible game controller. 

According to an unnamed source, Google developed Yeti for two years. The company originally had the service locked and loaded for a holiday 2017 launch, but reportedly decided to delay the project. So far there’s no indication of when — or if — the Yeti project will ever go retail. An updated Chromecast, however, is inevitable regardless of Yeti’s status. 

Unfortunately, there is no information about the rumored “console.” There is also no information about what Google plans to stream: Will the company simply offer Android games, or team up with Steam to provide a service that supports high-quality desktop-class games?

Possibly fueling Google’s Yeti project is Phil Harrison, who now serves as a vice president and general manager under the search giant’s roof. His previous experience includes three years on the Xbox team, as an advisory for Sony’s Gaikai streaming service, as a board member at Atari, and three other roles at Sony. Bringing Harrison on board at Google may be why the company chose to push back the launch of its Yeti project. He reports directly to Google’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Rick Osterloh. 

Currently, the most popular Android “console” on the market is Nvidia’s Shield TV. It’s an Android TV set-top box at heart, powered by the company’s Tegra-branded mobile processor. But it also focuses on gaming: Android-based games installed on the device, and PC games that you can stream through Nvidia’s GeForce Now service. This may be the market Google is addressing with its unannounced Yeti project. 

Nvidia is currently rolling out a beta of GeForce Now for Windows and MacOS-based PCs. The service creates a virtual desktop in the cloud powered by Nvidia’s GTX 1080 graphics cards.  You install your favorite Steam-based games in this virtual environment and then stream those games to low-end machines. 

Google could likely be backtracking to do something similar along with providing the service on the Chromecast or a micro-console. This could prove to be a great benefit for Chromebook owners who purchased a low-end device, but still want the benefits of playing high-quality desktop games. 

Google attempted to create an Android-based console in 2014 but scrapped its plans given the lackluster retail performance of the Ouya Android console. Ouya started out as a highly successful Kickstarter project that landed $8.59 million in funding but faced a retail roadblock because it didn’t support Google Play apps. Other clones came and went with very little success.

Sony already provides its Gaikai-backed PlayStation Now service that streams more than 600 PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games. Microsoft plans to enter the streaming market with an Xbox-branded service within the next several years. 


These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Home Theater

Kill your cable and switch to streaming with our painless guide

If you're going to quit cable or satellite for a streaming TV solution, you're going to want to get it right the first time. We've outlined exactly how to get started, step by step. Follow our lead, and you'll never look back.

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for December 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.

Skateboarding legend says ‘Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam’ will appeal to his fans

Tony Hawk's Skate Jam is now available for free on iOS and Android devices, and Digital Trends had the chance to talk to the legendary skater about its development and how it captures the magic of his best games.

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?

Cops called to handle ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ noise end up playing the game

A group of friends were playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch when cops arrived to respond to noise complaints from neighbors. In an unexpected twist, the officers ended up playing the game, too.

The third DLC for ‘Spider-Man’ swings onto PlayStation 4 next week

The third part of Spider-Man's episodic DLC, Silver Lining, releases on December 21. The episode focuses on Silver Sable and Hammerhead, and it includes three new suits for Peter Parker.

Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.

Grabbing a Switch for the holidays? Here's what you need to know to play online

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.