What is Google's streaming service Stadia capable of?
The gaming console in your living room, the expensive gaming PC underneath your desk or your Nintendo Switch for when you're on the go, you won't need them anymore. At least according to Google, which plans on launching its own game streaming service coming November.
Stadia is Google's attempt to reconcile gaming and streaming without the need for specific hardware. True to the motto of playing everywhere, users of the subscription service don't need to download any games, allowing you to easily switch between playing on your TV, laptop or Pixel smartphone. The idea behind Google's cloud gaming service is to run games on Google's highly equipped servers on the net instead of on users' devices. The company has now announced the pricing for its own console - starting from 129 euros for the Stadia Founder's edition, including the streaming device Chromecast Ultra and a controller. Depending on how fast your network is, the resolution of Google Stadia ranges from 720p to 4K.
4K for paying customers only
According to Google, the starting price also includes three months of the subscription service Stadia Pro, which will otherwise cost 9.99 euros per month. Subscribers get sharper 4k images and access to a selection of games, of which only Destiny 2 has been mentioned so far. However, not every game is shipped within a subscription. Titles like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Doom: Eternal and Metro Exodus will still have to be bought, the same applies for the recently announced Baldur's Gate 3. Google's move towards more traditional game sales will make it more difficult for Stadia to attract customers, especially as the company has not yet shown if it can better serve customers than traditional PC and console vendors. As a subscription service is also difficult to sell without a broad selection of content, it will be interesting to see how many games will be included at launch.
A free version of Stadia will probably be available in 2020. Users of the free version will, however, only get Full HD resolution instead of 4k and stereo instead of multi-channel sound. While both variants of the offer should be able to deliver frame rates of up to 60 frames per second, whether and how well you will be able to use Stadia is really depended on your internet connection. Concerning 4k resolution, Google recommends a connection with speeds of around 35 Mbit/s, 20Mbit/s for Full HD. Response times are very important, as the controls you take also have to reach Google's servers immediately.
At least, you can skip the tedious downloading of games, as a new one can be started by the press of a button. As far as the devices are concerned, Stadia is initially designed for the use on home computers, laptops or televisions. For the time being, the service will only run on selected mobile devices, like Google's own Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones.