Back in October 2018, Google announced Project Stream. At a showcase event, they demoed this service showing how they could stream Assassin's Creed Odyssey to a laptop through the use of Google Chrome, with no download required. This piqued the interest of gaming and technology buffs across the globe. Google then offered the service out to some members of the public in closed beta as long as they met the requirements to run the service. Those who participated in the test received a free copy of the game once the beta ended.
We then move into the new year, March 2019, and the Game Developers Conference (GDC). Google formally announced Stadia at its keynote. A video game streaming platform where you are not required to download the game. Alongside the development of their own games, Stadia will also introduce third-party support for the platform. We will cover this and more down below.
What is Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is a new type of streaming service that lets you play video games on most modern screens. It offers the ability to stream a game straight to your TV (with the use of a Chromecast Ultra), PC, Laptop and even some mobile phones at the click of a link. With Google taking full control of the processing demand, meaning the games are ready to play whenever you desire them, this means you will never need to download or install a game through the service. It's similar to opening a video on Netflix, in that you click on what you want to experience, and it loads up in front of your eyes.
With a service such as this, having a strong and stable internet connection is a must. The faster the connection the better the streaming quality you will receive. With the minimum recommended network speed of 10Mbps, you will be getting 720p, 60fps and stereo sound. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, to get the best out of Stadia, the company recommends 35Mbps; this will give you access to 4k quality, HDR Video, 60fps and 5.1 surround sound. 60fps is the capped frame rate for Stadia regardless of network speeds. If you are unsure if you will be able to run Stadia you can use Google's speed test site to check your network.
When can you expect to play Stadia?
Stadia will be having its initial release on November 19th; this will be launch day for anyone who has pre-ordered the now sold-out Founder's Edition and the Premiere Edition (we will cover these in more detail in a minute). For its November release, Stadia will be available in 14 countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Anyone who doesn't want one of the special editions will have to wait for the Stadia Base to roll out sometime in 2020.
What are the costs around Stadia?
As stated previously, those who wish to play Stadia at its earliest release will have to purchase of one of its special editions. Both packs will set you back £119/$129, however, being that the Founder's Edition has sold out, you will only be able to pick up the Premiere Edition. There's no need to fret about missing out on the Founder's Edition though, as the two editions are near identical; all that differs is the colour of the controller and the Founder's pack gets a three-month Stadia Pro code for a friend.
Speaking of which, Stadia Pro is the paid subscription that will grant you access to some extras not available to a standard user. Priced at £8.99/$9.99 per month. This service is required if you wish to stream games in 4K with HDR support (and with 5.1 surround sound). Also included in Pro will be access to free games that will be releasing throughout its lifetime. The first game in this offer is Destiny 2: The Collection, anyone who picks up the Premiere Edition will have access to this game from November 19 and all other free games. Pro users will also be entitled to a Stadia Pro-exclusive discount, and select games will have discounts only available to Pro buyers as an added incentive (much like PS Plus or Xbox Gold). Goggle has confirmed that if you were to cancel your Pro subscription you will still be able to play all the games you have purchased, just without the 4K and 5.1 surround sound. Free games through Stadia Pro will only become available again if you restart your subscription, however.
Stadia Base will not require a monthly subscription. This option will become available in 2020 and will still give you access to playing games on any device, but will limit you to 1080p with stereo sound. This option does not include free games, nor any exclusive discounts.
What do you get in the Premiere Edition?
Included within the Premiere Edition you will get three months of the previously mentioned Stadia Pro, a Chromecast Ultra (allowing you to stream to your TV) and a white Stadia Controller, which allows you to instantly connect to the Chromecast or use it as a standard controller on PC or laptop. Also, as we have mentioned, buying the Premiere Edition gets you Stadia earlier than anyone else and access to all the supported devices from launch.
The Stadia Controller has a few built-in features which make it the easiest to use with Stadia. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection you will be able to instantly connect to Goggle's custom gaming data centre. The controller also has a built-in record button allowing you to record your favourite moments at the click of a button, saving them instantly. If you wish to use the controller as a standard USB controller then you can just plug it into the PC or laptop and use it without the Wi-Fi feature.
Extra controllers can be purchased for £59/$69 each. There are three different colours available: Black, Clearly White, and Wasabi. There is a fourth colour, Night Blue, but this was exclusive to the Founder's Edition.
The Stadia Controller is not the only way you will be able to play on Stadia, for PC and the few supported mobile devices, a standard USB controller will work. If the Xbox One controller is your preferred accessory, then you will be able to use it. On PC and Laptop, players will be able to use keyboard and mouse if that suits their playstyle and comfort better.
Goggle also announced a new feature they have been working on for Stadia known as State Share. This is a feature where you will be able to connect with others in the community, whether you are streaming the game over the internet or just playing at home. State Share allows players to create a link to a specific moment in the game, whether you want friends to experience what you are doing or if you wish to challenge people to try and beat your time for a specific challenge. State Share allows for all of this and when you click on the link you will access the original player's save state for that specific moment through the cloud.
What games are Google lining up?
Google Stadia has announced a number of heavy-hitting games as well as some of the smaller indie titles. With the number of games growing with every new conference, it looks like Stadia will soon have a library of games that will attract a wide pool of potential customers.
Here is the full list of games confirmed so far, with many more to come:
Assassin's Creed Odyssey*
Baldur's Gate III
Destiny 2: The Collection*
Destroy All Humans!
Farming Simulator 19
Final Fantasy XV
Football Manager 2020
Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
Gods & Monsters
Just Dance 2020*
Mortal Kombat 11*
Orcs Must Die 3
Red Dead Redemption 2*
Rise of the Tomb Raider*
Shadow of the Tomb Raider*
The Crew 2
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Division 2
Watch Dogs Legion
*Only these games will be available at launch, the rest will follow later.
Does it actually work?
That's the big question that's still waiting to be answered, and we'll be ready to tell you our in-depth thoughts on Google's streaming solution soon enough. Stay tuned.
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