In Depth

Google Stadia: reviews, download speeds, games, pricing and UK release

Countdown to the search giant’s gaming service is almost up. Here’s what we know so far

Google’s is moments away from launching its Stadia streaming service - marking the company’s first foray into the gaming world.

Previewed at San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March, Stadia allows gamers to play a host of titles on all manner of devices, from smartphones to laptops, with no need for a conventional home console.

Instead, it uses the cloud to allow gamers to instantly access titles without a physical disc or through downloads.

Many are hailing the service as a “Netflix for games”, with users paying a monthly subscription fee to access powerful cloud-based hardware to play a range of big-budget titles.

The service launches in limited quantities at 5pm in the UK, before releasing in full in 2020. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about Google Stadia:

First impressions

Google Stadia may be a somewhat unconventional way of playing the latest video games. The Verge, however, says that the system not only “works”, but also delivers a “clearer” picture quality than its console rivals. 

The service responds well to user inputs, too, with mouse and keyboard commands feeling fast and fluid, the site notes. Even with lower download speeds, games typically react to command prompts with console-like precision. 

While Trusted Reviews agrees that Stadia held up well compared to traditional consoles, the service’s visual quality can be a little inconsistent.

“When my internet connection was good enough to achieve a Full HD picture, the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider still don’t look quite as good as they do on my standard PS4”, the website says.

Google Stadia has some “problems” in its current state, owing to “missing features” - such as certain game modes that are exclusive to the platform - and a “strange” lineup of launch titles, argues GamesRadar

That said, the company has “brought cloud-streaming to market in a way that feels more accessible than it has ever done so in the past.” 

Pricing

There are three purchase options for Google Stadia. Price dictates the quality of the stream, with the higher tiers offering better resolutions and frame rates.

The most expensive subscription plan is Stadia Pro, at £8.99 per month. Players who sign up for this level will be able to stream games at 4K at 60fps, says Pocket-lint.

Contrary to earlier reports, buyers will not gain access to a “library of games”, the tech site says. Instead, payers get one free game a month through Google’s Pro plan, similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Live service and Sony’s PS Plus.

Below Stadia Pro is Stadia Base, due to arrive in 2020. It’s free to use but the quality of streams drops to a 1080p resolution, while maintaining a frame rate of 60fps, and gamers won’t get a free game every month.

There’s also a £119 Premiere Edition, which includes the Stadia controller, costing £59 separately, along with a Chromecast Ultra and a three-month subscription to the Pro plan. 

What is Google Stadia?

Stadia is a streaming service that lets gamers play a host of titles on all manner of devices, from smartphones to laptops. 

Unlike Xbox One or PlayStation 4, which take the form of conventional home consoles, Stadia uses the cloud so that gamers can instantly access titles without a physical disc or through large downloads.

Google’s new service is based around a subscription model, with users paying a monthly subscription fee to access top-tier gaming hardware and a free new title every month.

Although players will be able to use existing Bluetooth controllers with the Stadia app, such as an Xbox One gamepad, the company has showcased a dedicated controller that connects directly to the data centres that will power the streaming service.

This should mean that there is almost no latency – the delay between the user’s input and the on-screen action.

Download speed requirements

One major concern raised after Stadia’s unveiling at GDC was whether gamers with poor internet connections would be able to subscribe to the service, given that video game streaming can be particularly demanding on broadband networks.

But the tech giant says it has built the service to function on internet connections with download speeds that are well below the UK average, which broadband speed checker Speedtest claims was 50.16Mbps in the second half of 2017. 

Stadia users with a broadband speed of roughly 10Mbps will be able to stream games at a resolution of 720p, says Digital Trends. That’s the equivalent graphical specs of an Xbox One launch title, such as 2013’s Battlefield 4.

With a broadband speed of 20Mbps, players can stream games at 1080p and 60fps with 5.1 surround sound audio, the tech site says. That matches most titles that are optimised for a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

Players will need a download speed of 35Mbps or higher to stream games in 4K, 60fps and 5.1 surround sound, adds Digital Trends.

A plan that allows gamers to stream in 8K and 120fps is also in the pipeline, but no minimum download speed has been confirmed for this as yet.

Compatible devices

Gamers with computers running Google’s Chrome web browser will be able to access Stadia, as will those with a Chromecast and devices running Chrome OS.

Google’s recent range Pixel phones will run the service, too, including the Pixel 3a series and the new Pixel 4 lineup.

Game library 

Stadia was set to have a library of just 12 titles at launch. However, Google has added another ten games to the roster ahead of the service’s arrival, meaning gamers can purchase 22 titles at launch. 

As reported by The Verge, the game library at launch is as follows: 

  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
  • Destiny 2
  • Farming Simulator 2019
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Grid 2019
  • Gylt
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K20
  • Rage 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider 
  • Trials Rising
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

More games, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Borderlands 3, will be added to the service in 2020, the tech site notes.

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