Everything to Know About Google Stadia
Google Stadia marks the tech giant's first foray into cloud gaming, and Google makes some pretty big claims about its service that only a company of their size (and wealth) could possibly make. Set to release this month, pre-orders for the service have already sold out twice, making it the most significant launch for a game streaming service in history. If you're curious what all the commotion is all about and how Stadia hopes to succeed where countless others have failed, read on for a detailed look at everything you need to know about Google Stadia leading up to its launch.
What is it?
Google Stadia is a cloud gaming platform. Cloud gaming as a concept is nothing new - it's been around in one shape or another since the early 2000s, though never to any real success. Each service's methods and underlying technologies may differ, but what cloud gaming boils down to is running a game on a remote service or machine that streams the audio and video to the player. The player controls the game by sending inputs to the remote machine. Theoretically, this allows for any game to be playable on any internet-ready device, as the most demanding parts of the software - the processing and graphics rendering - aren't actually being calculated on the device.
Stadia lets you play games on virtually any device with an internet connection without any special game launcher software. You'll have to buy special Stadia-branded games individually if you want to play them. The basic service itself is free and allows for streaming up to 1080p at 60fps and standard stereo sound. There's also a premium version of Stadia that involves a monthly fee and offers monthly rewards and discounts for games as well as better video and audio quality (up to 4k, 60fps, with 5.1 Surround).
What does the lineup of games look like for launch?
Stadia has garnered some major support from some big players in the video games industry, with publishers like EA, Ubisoft, and Square Enix jumping on board early. A dozen titles are set to be available for Stadia's launch with many more to release in the coming months. The complete list is below:
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Destiny 2
- Just Dance 2020
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Samurai Shodown
- Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Titles Expected by New Year's Day
- Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
- Borderlands 3
- Darksiders Genesis
- Dragonball Xenoverse 2
- Farming Simulator 19
- Final Fantasy 15
- Football Manager 2020
- Ghost Recon Breakpoint
- Metro Exodus
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Even more games are slated for future release though their dates aren't set in stone yet, including some big titles like The Division 2 and Cyberpunk 2077.
When is it releasing and how much will it cost?
Google Stadia's premium offering (Stadia Pro) is launching on November 19, 2019. The Founder's Edition which was available as a pre-purchase (and has sold out twice) went for $129 and came with a special blue Stadia-brand controller and Chromecast Ultra. It also features a Buddy Pass that allows you to share your library with a friend. The Founder's Edition has been removed from the Google Stadia website and is no longer available.
Those interested in checking out Stadia on the 19th can look forward to the Stadia Premiere Edition which also comes with Chromecast Ultra and 3-month Stadia Pro subscription. No Buddy Pass, unfortunately.
Stadia Pro itself will only cost $9.99 a month and allow you to play your Google Stadia games at 4k at 60fps and 5.1 surround sound. Monthly subscribers can also expect some pretty sweet monthly rewards, including free games, as well as a universal discount that applies to all Stadia games.
The free version of Stadia (Stadia Base) isn't coming until sometime next year. Stadia Base streaming quality is limited to 1080p and standard stereo sound.
How will Stadia handle the issue of latency?
The primary reason services like this have failed to make a splash in the past is simple: stable, high-bandwidth internet was too expensive. Even as broadband connections became more accessible and affordable - and video and audio streaming services became popular - cloud gaming services have still been unable to solve the one problem other streaming services like YouTube and Spotify don't have to worry about: latency. As bandwidth improves, the actual latency to the servers remains an issue that other services have tried and failed to solve.
Google has promised a solution to the latency problem with a new technology their head of engineering, Majd Bakar, calls "negative latency." Details on what that means or how it works remain scarce and with the launch coming up it seems we'll have to wait for release to know more.
Another potential issue has to do with the sheer volume of data the service requires to enable regular play. This could become a problem for users with monthly data caps. A quick calculation of their service at its lowest quality (720p, 60fps, 10Mbps bitrate) shows us that you'll be using up roughly 4.5GB per hour. That's at the lowest settings, too, so if you've got a 1TB cap on your internet be prepared to run out of that quickly.
Will I have to use the Stadia controller?
The Founder's and Premium editions of Stadia come with special Stadia brand controllers and you'll eventually be able to purchase your own, but it won't be required for gaming on the Stadia. There has yet to be any news regarding what controllers and devices are officially supported by Stadia, so you'll want to keep your eyes and ears open for that.
Summing everything up...
Stadia is looking to be a real gamechanger in the games-on-demand industry, but a bit of skepticism is healthy. Google still hasn't offered any real explanations on how they're hoping to fix the issue of latency and the major bandwidth requirements could spell doom for the service. There is also the trend of Google bailing on its frontier type projects as we've seen over the years, and this puts potential game developers in a state of caution before actually developing Stadia based games. Unless you have to try it right now, we'd suggest paying extra attention to how things develop and what the user experience is like before taking the leap.