Google Stadia: Everything we know about the upcoming streaming service

What is Google Stadia?

Google Stadia is an upcoming video game platform, but instead of having a traditional console, allows you to stream games from the cloud to your smart TV, smartphone, tablet or any device where that can access a Google Chrome browser.

This means you’ll be able to run AAA games on the likes of a cheap Chromebook or Android smartphone, as Google’s servers handle all the heavy lifting instead of your own device’s hardware. As long as you’ve got a good internet connection, then you could theoretically be playing AAA in 4K on any Android device you fancy. For Ultra HD gaming, you’ll need at least a 30 Mbps connection, while Google says the minimum recommended network speed is 10 Mbps.

Stadia will also have multiple subscription options, including one that’s free option but limits you to 1080p at 60fps. Of course, you’ll still have to pay for every game you want to run on Stadia.

There’s also a Stadia Pro tier which costs £8.99/month but allows 4K streaming. Again, you’ll have to buy your own games outright, but Google will be gifting monthly games to Pro subscribers for free akin to how PS Plus and Xbox Gold operate.

We’ve tested out Google Stadia for ourselves so read below if you want to know how well it runs. We’ve also rounded up every nugget of information for the cloud-streaming app, including release date, games, specs and our hands-on preview with service.

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Google Stadia

Google Stadia Release date – When is Google Stadia coming out?

Google Stadia will launch as soon as November 19.

That release date only applies to 14 territories though, but the UK, US and Canada are included here. Only the Pro Stadia subscription will be available from launch though, with the Base (free) subscription launching at a later date in 2020.  

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Google Stadia Price – How much will Stadia cost?

Google Stadia Pro subscription will cost £8.99 per month. This top-tier subscription model allows you to stream games at up to 4K at 60fps, while also offering a free monthly game starting with Destiny 2: The Collection.

Stadia Base will also launch in 2020, which allows users to use Google’s streaming platform for free, but the resolution will be capped at Full HD at 60fps. You’ll also be limited to stereo sound instead of surround sound. There will be no monthly free game with this subscription. 

The Google Stadia Premiere Edition is available to preorder now for £119, and includes first-time access to Stadia, comes bundled with Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia Controller and a three-month subscription to the service. 

Additional controllers can be purchased separately too if you fancy jumping into some couch multiplayer, costing £59 each, with three different colour options available: Clearly White, Just Black and Wasabi.

Google Stadia Games – All the confirmed titles 

Google has already amassed a huge library of Stadia titles, while also hinting that it may be producing exclusive games for the service in the future.

We’ve compiled a list of some of most notable confirmed Stadia games so far:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Attack on Titan 2
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Borderlands 3
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Destiny 2
  • Destroy All Humans
  • DOOM
  • DOOM Eternal
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Get Packed
  • Grid
  • Gylt
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K
  • Orcs Must Die 3
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Superhot
  • The Crew 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Thumper
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • The Division 2
  • Tomb Raider
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Trials Rising
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood

Preorder: Google Stadia Founder’s Edition for just £119

Cyberpunk 2077 Stadia

Google Stadia E3 2019 Preview – How does it play?

Google Stadia is supremely impressive technology, showcasing a streaming future that holds unparalleled potential – yet it also presents a multitude of problems that question my love for the medium in the first place. The company’s vision of the future isn’t in consoles of peripherals, but a gaming experience where everything happens in the cloud.

It’s hard to fault Google’s ambition here, and Stadia as a fledgling technology has already impressed me. Although with only a few months from the November 2019 launch, there are still multiple kinks to work out for the public to really enjoy what the service has to offer.

At E3 2019 I sat down and spent 30 minutes or so with DOOM Eternal on Stadia, and was told it was running at 1080p on a Chromebook while being streamed to a larger display in front of me.

The data centre it was drawing the gameplay from was located in San Francisco as I sat in a comfortable lounge in Downtown Los Angeles. These were presumably optimal conditions, so I expected Stadia to work without missing a beat.

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Google Stadia Preview

Although DOOM Eternal was perfectly playable in this way, I’d never choose it over native hardware that promised more consistent performance and lack of latency across the board. From the tutorial, aiming felt great, essentially nailing what I’d expect from a console or PC being in the room. I could pull of headshots flawlessly while bounding across the room without issue.

However, the same fluidity can’t be lauded upon image quality, which was inconsistent at times. Upon turning the camera, environments would appear muddy and artefacts obvious as Google Stadia tried to draw in the image at a 1080p target resolution. Having already played DOOM Eternal on a high-end system, the difference was like night and day. Which begs the question, why would someone with a modern console opt for Stadia?

Performance failed to hit the 60fps target I’ve come to expect from id Software’s shooter series, making it harder to keep moving in the chaos of a firefight or fully comprehend the demons slowly surrounding you. I imagine Stadia is perfect for slower-paced genres, like platformers and action-adventure experiences, but with something like DOOM Eternal, visual and performance clarity is paramount. In my demo, that’s not what I got.

Related: Cyberpunk 2077

Google Stadia Preview

Google Stadia controller preview – How does it feel to use?

While I still have some concerns about Stadia itself, the controller is absolutely gorgeous. It feels intuitive to use thanks to clever thumbstick and button layout across the board. Buttons react with a satisfying compression, each command slickly executed with or without latency.

Thumbsticks are equally impressive, allowing for razor-sharp responses in shooters like DOOM Eternal. Unfortunately I didn’t find myself in a position to use the d-pad, although it feels robust against your fingers and should be ideal for games that demand it.

Alongside the usual bells and whistles, there are buttons for the following functions – Start, Select, Google Assistant and Gameplay Capture/Streaming. It’s taking cues from modern controller design while also putting its own spin of things, and I really dig it. Google has confirmed it will be compatible with other consoles and devices too, if the design tickles your fancy and you want to pick one up.

First impressions

As I mentioned earlier, Google Stadia still has so much untapped potential, and I feel it’s still too early in the world of on-demand streaming for it to really capitalise on a huge audience.

I’m willing to be proven wrong later this year, but seeing DOOM Eternal falter under optimal conditions has left me doubtful.

Google Stadia multiple platforms

Google Stadia Specs – How powerful is Stadia?

Crucially, Stadia is ‘in the cloud’ and so you’ll never see the rigs pushing pixels around your screen, but the machines are far from ethereal and have some serious grunt behind them. They are packing a 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB RAM, but Google has also partnered with AMD for custom GPUs, which apparently have 10.7 teraflops of power.

Bear in mind the Xbox One X, the most powerful console on the market currently, can only muster 6 teraflops. It’s hard to get a handle on exactly how well it’ll perform based on this, seeing as teraflops don’t really indicate performance, but it shows that there’s some serious grunt going on behind the scenes.

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Google Stadia bandwidth requirements

While Google is clear that Stadia itself is not a box (“the data centre is your platform”), the company has made a custom gamepad for it. At a glance, it looks a bit like an Xbox pad has lost a bit of weight, but Google highlights two important buttons that hint at where it seems to see Stadia as going in the long term. The capture button instantly shares with YouTube via a live stream, while the Google Assistant button opens a built-in microphone for assistance and special features within games.

“Think about the way the web works – you can easily share a link and it works seamlessly. We want games to feel that way too: instantly enjoyable with access for everyone,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, introducing Stadia.

Google also showed off its resolution ranges, detailing what internet connection you’ll need for each resolution. Download speeds of 20 MBps are required for a recommended 1080p resolution, while you’ll need download speeds of around 30 MBps to get the ideal performance for 4K streams. The absolute minimum download speeds that Google recommends are 10 Mbps, which most home Wi-Fi networks should be able to deal with. Head to the Google Stadia website, and you’ll be able to test your connection to see whether your broadband is up to the challenge.

Google Stadia Phones What phones are compatible? 

While Google plans for Stadia to work on any Android smartphone in the future, the app will only be available for select handsets at launch.

Unsurprisingly, Google has chosen its own smartphones to be the sole option for Stadia streaming on launch. Here’s every phone confirmed for Stadia so far:

Google also controversially revealed Stadia will only work over a Wi-Fi connection, ruling out the possibility of using 4G or 5G to stream, at least at launch.

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