It has been a little less than two weeks since we broke the news that Lenovo was on the verge of launching a new “gaming” Chromebook. Now, as the dust settles from the Pixel Launch Event, Google is making headlines again with the official announcement of the world’s first Chromebooks built for cloud gaming. I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t Google just pull the plug on Stadia?” Yes, yes they did but this announcement is so much bigger than any single cloud gaming service and Google has doubled down on cloud gaming in a big way.
New gaming Chromebooks
Along with strategic partnerships with cloud gaming services that we’ll discuss momentarily, Google has come alongside ChromeOS manufacturers to create the first generation of game-centric Chromebooks designed for the “undercover gamer.” As part of the announcement, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer have officially debuted a line of ChromeOS laptops that feature high-res displays, RGB keyboards, and the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E for the best connectivity the industry has to offer. What is an undercover gamer? Great question. Undercover gamers include a wide swath of users that range from hardcore gamers to casual users that aren’t looking to invest in dedicated and often expensive gaming rigs.
From an internals standpoint, the new gaming Chromebooks don’t differ much from the latest 11th and 12th Gen Intel ChromeOS laptops on the market but the addition of 120Hz and up displays, anti-ghosting RGB keyboards, and unique aesthetics give the new devices the look and feel of more-expensive PCs that have become synonymous with gaming. We’ll have more on the new laptops from Acer, Lenovo, and ASUS later this week but for now, take a look at Google’s new ad campaign that employs Deion “Prime Time” Sanders and his sons Shilo and Shedeur to show off the next evolution of cloud gaming.
The first three “gaming” Chromebooks come from Acer, ASUS, and of course, Lenovo, and they feature 11th Gen and 12th Gen Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs from Intel. They all feature a 120Hz minimum display with some touting 144Hz. Each is designed with immersive audio and select models will be available as early as this month. Here comes the best news. You would expect a 12th Gen Chromebook with a 120Hz display and segment-leading features to cost upwards of $1,000 or more, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The new line of gaming Chromebooks will start at the very meager price of only $399 with the upper-echelon models coming in at a cool $799. I’ll have some more thoughts on that later this week but suffice it to say, these Chromebooks will be premium and powerful with a price tag well below what we would expect from this caliber of device.
- Acer Chromebook 516 GE
- ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
- Ideapad Gaming Chromebook from Lenovo
So, we now have gaming Chromebooks but with the loss of Stadia, what are you going to play? Well, Google has been busy forging some high-profile partnerships with the industries top 3 cloud gaming platforms and these Chromebooks have been built intently to work seamlessly with each one. Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s Xbox cloud gaming Beta, and Amazon’s Luna will all work out of the box with these Chromebooks. GeForce Now will allow users on the top-tier of its platform to leverage 120FPS and up to 1600p resolution for smooth, responsive gaming and will come pre-installed on certified gaming Chromebooks. Microsoft has even turned its Xbox cloud gaming into a PWA so you can easily install the web app on your Chromebook for a more native gaming experience.
To add some icing to the cake, Google’s partnership with these leading cloud gaming services comes with some perks. When you purchase one of these gaming Chromebooks, you’ll be able to claim a 3-month subscription to Amazon Luna and the highest tier of GeForce Now straight out of the box. With GeForce now, you can connect your Steam, Ubisoft, and Epic Games accounts and play all of your favorite free and owned titles without an expensive gaming rig. Select devices will even come with a free SteelSeries Rival 3 gaming mouse which leads me to the next leg of this announcement.
If you’re a gamer on any level, you know that input devices are key to having a decided edge over your opponent. Google has partnered with some of the industries best peripheral makers to bring Works with Chromebook accessories to the gaming space. These include headsets, mice, and gaming controllers from the likes of Acer, Corsair, SteelSeries, Lenovo, and HyperX with more devices to come. These peripherals have been tested and certified to work with ChromeOS seamlessly and some OEMs are even launching web apps that give you more control of your peripheral’s features. For example, Corsair will have a PWA that allows you to adjust the RGB lighting and tweak your mouse’s performance settings directly from the web app.
We’ve been tracking this one for months and now, Google has made it official. Starting with GeForce Now and the Google Play Store, ChromeOS will now include a search feature directly in the app launcher that will surface available games for your Chromebook and show you where you can play them. Below, you can see an example in which Destiny 2 is launched directly from the app launcher using GeForce Now.
We had the opportunity to sit in on a press briefing yesterday and from what I gathered, Google is fully commited to making ChromeOS a game-centric platform. The time invested in these partnerships is promising and if the industry can get over the hump to embrace cloud gaming, Chromebooks could be the herald for a new generation of gaming in the very near future. If you already own a Chromebook, you may be wondering if you can take advantage of the cloud gaming. The answer is a resounding yes. While you won’t get the crispy display options or the gaming-focused features like RGB keyboards, you can absolutely play your favorite games on your Chromebook directly from the cloud right now. Stay tuned for more coverage and keep an eye out for our hands-on with some new devices and some game play in the coming weeks. There’s plenty to talk about here and you don’t want to miss one single bit of it.