As the debate rages over whether or not Stadia will land in the “Google graveyard”, it looks like the search giant may have prepared something that could save its struggling game streaming service: a fix for run Windows games.
According to The edge, Reddit users spotted a session at Google’s upcoming Game Developer Summit titled “How to Write a Windows Emulator for Linux from Scratch”. Google Stadia Porting Platform Manager Marchin Undak will lead the session. It promises a “detailed look at the technology behind Google’s solution for running unmodified Windows games on Stadia.”
In other words, it looks like Google has created its own Windows “emulator” for Linux.
It’s worth noting that Google’s Stadia is Linux-based, which means this could open the door to easily porting games designed to run on Windows to Stadia. Although Google worked with companies like Unreal, Unity, and Havok to improve the porting process, game developers still had to work hard to get titles to work on Linux.
If Google’s solution works well, it could remove some of the biggest obstacles to running games on Stadia. This could lead to an influx of new titles onto the platform.
Like The edge points out, Google calls the solution an emulator, but it’s likely the solution is more of a compatibility layer. App emulation can lead to performance issues, which aren’t ideal in things like games. Compatibility layers, on the other hand, can translate applications to run on different platforms without such a big impact on performance.
Valve’s Proton Compatibility Layer is a great example. Proton, for those unfamiliar, uses a modified version of “Wine” and maps Microsoft’s Direct3D graphics APIs to Vulkan, allowing Windows games to run on Linux. Proton is the key to the Steam Deck, which runs a custom Linux distribution called “Steam OS”.
Of course, Google and Valve aren’t the only companies researching ways to run Windows games on Linux-based systems. Amazon has been trying to hire developers with experience in Proton for its Luna game service (which is not yet available in Canada). Luna is Windows-powered, but Amazon’s hiring attempts suggest it could switch to Linux.
Whether Google’s Windows-games-on-Stadia solution is an emulator or a compatibility layer remains to be seen. Either way, it could be a great way to expand the content available on Stadia. We’ll likely learn all the details at the Game Developer Summit on March 15.
Source: The Edge