Everything you need to know about Stadia, Google’s answer to the Netflix of gaming
It allows you to stream games via the cloud across any device you may already own, allowing access to an ever-growing catalogue of games.
Confused? Don’t be. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Google Stadia and how does it work?
Stadia is Google’s cloud gaming service. That means playing games via stream without the need for a console.
While you play the game in real time, the game is actually run on a Stadia server somewhere else in the world with the video of your gameplay transmitted to you over the internet. Using Google’s servers, Stadia offers top quality visuals in-line with a high end PC, capable of outputting at 4K resolution at a smooth 60 frames per second. However, your internet speed will in part determine the video quality of the streamed image (Stadia Pro account also required).
Games can be streamed to any compatible device, be it PC, mobile or Google’s own Chromecast (for TV use). Save states are also shared between devices and linked to your account, meaning you can swap between devices and continue where you left off.
One of the biggest concerns with cloud gaming is latency – the time between controller input and the action on-screen. The Stadia controller is recommended to counter this, as it connects directly to your Wi-Fi rather than the device streaming the game. A strong internet connection is also recommended for the best performance.
What equipment do I need?
On computer, Stadia is streamed to the Google Chrome browser, meaning you can play on any PC or laptop. For a list of compatible mobile devices, see here. On a TV, the only way to play is with Google’s Chromecast Ultra.
Google have also released their official Stadia controller, though it’s not strictly required. The benefit is that the controller connects directly to the internet via Wi-Fi rather than through your device, which reduces latency. The controller is available in three colours at £59: Clearly White, Just Black and Wasabi. Other controllers, such as an Xbox, PlayStation Dualshock, or Switch Pro controller are also compatible when connected to a computer. (see here)
Lastly, a strong internet connection is recommended to ensure the best quality stream of gameplay (at a minimum over 10Mbps, ideally over 35Mbps for the highest visual quality).
What games can you play on Google Stadia?
A number of third-party developers and publishers have pledged support to Stadia, including Ubisoft, iD Software and more. That means you can play big budget AAA games like Assassins Creed Odyssey and Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Hitman 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2, plus a whole host of smaller indie titles. There are also a handful of exclusives, including Orcs Must Die! 3, Super Bomberman R Online and Outcasters. For a full list, see here.
What unique features does it have?
- Google Assistant
The Stadia controller includes a dedicated Google Assistant button that can be used to instantly search for game help alongside gameplay.
- State Share
It’s possible to share a link with friends of your save state, allowing them to continue where you left off. Stuck in a game? Get your friends to help!
- Stream Connect
Share your screen with teammates so they can follow the action in real-time, and you can see their’s. Included in the likes of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint where teamwork is imperative.
There are also some YouTube integrated features such as Crowd Choice, where YouTube streamer audiences can vote on in-game decisions, and Crowd Play (beta), where YouTube viewers can join a streamer live. These features are both limited to specific games.
How much does it cost?
There are currently two tiers of membership:
- Stadia Pro
This is the top tier, costing £8.99 per month. It allows for the best 4K visual output and 5.1 surround sound, as well as access to a small selection of games for free (similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold). However, you will still need to pay for certain games individually. A free trial is available for one month.
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This is the basic plan that is entirely free. However, all games will need to be purchased individually and it lacks access to the higher end visual features, meaning games can only be played in 1080p resolution with stereo sound. No monthly subscription is required.
In addition, a Stadia Premiere Edition bundle is available for £89.99. This includes everything you need to get started: a Clearly White Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra for TV play, and a one month free trial of Stadia Pro.
Where is Stadia available?
UK, US, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
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