Update: Our Google Stadia review is now live. Check it out to see our verdict.
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.
Related: Google Stadia Review
Google Stadia Release date – When is Google Stadia coming out?
Google Stadia is available to buy right now, but only in 14 territories including the UK, US and Canada. Only the Pro Stadia subscription is available from launch though, with the Base (free) subscription launching at a later date in 2020.
Related: Project xCloud
Google Stadia Price – How much does Stadia cost?
Google Stadia Pro subscription costs £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 buy 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.
Related: PS5 vs Xbox 2
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.
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.