Google hints at Windows Games running on Stadia

Google seems to have built its own solution for running Windows games on Stadia. Google plans to detail its Windows “emulator” for Linux next week at the company’s Google for Games Developer Summit on March 15. Reddit users have spotted a summit session that will detail “how to write a Windows emulator for Linux from scratch.”

The session will be led by Marcin Undak, from Google’s Stadia porting platform team, and promises a “detailed look at the technology behind Google’s solution for running unmodified Windows games on Stadia.” It looks like Google has built its own Windows emulator for Linux to help developers port games to the service without having to modify the titles for Linux.

Stadia could soon run Windows games.
Image: Google

If the emulator runs live on Stadia instead of just testing environments, it could open the door for a lot more games making their way to Stadia in the future. When Google first unveiled Stadia three years ago, the server hardware powering the service all ran Linux. This meant that game developers had to port their games to Stadia. Google partnered with Unreal and Unity and even middleware companies like Havok, but there was still work to be done to get developers to put games on Stadia.

Now it looks like Google has come up with a solution to remove this work and allow Windows games to run unmodified. Google mentions an emulator here, but it’s more likely that the company instead built a compatibility layer capable of running Windows apps without having to emulate them directly and encounter performance issues.

The Steam Deck also runs Windows games.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Valve has created its own Proton compatibility layer that allows Windows games to run on Linux using a modified version of Wine. Proton now helps power the Steam Deck experience by mapping Microsoft’s Direct3D graphics APIs to Vulkan. Google’s deep dive will include technical details about its technology and how programmers can create their own emulator.

Google may not be alone in bringing unmodified Windows games to a game streaming service. Amazon’s Luna game streaming service is currently powered by Windows, but the company has tried to hire developers with experience working with Proton.

Google’s plans aren’t very clear right now, but we’ll learn more about what it’s doing with Windows Games on Stadia next week. The Google for Games Developer Summit kicks off on March 15, so stay tuned The edge for more coverage.

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