How do you like the idea of enjoying your favorite game, anywhere you go, without the need for a console, disc or large downloads? Sounds awesome, right? What was once perceived as ambitious is now a reality with the recently launched Google Stadia, a creation of Google. Unlike Xbox One or PlayStation, you don’t need costly hardware since Google Stadia is not a console but a gaming platform that allows you to stream games from the cloud. Stadia offers a variety of titles that you can play on a smartphone, computer or TV, despite a few limitations.
Google Stadia was launched on November 19, 2019, with mixed reactions from gaming experts and fans worldwide. Being the next generation of gaming, the expectations were high. Unfortunately, the launch wasn’t as smooth and Google failed to deliver on some of its promises. Chief among them was the lack of mobile phone support (which was limited to Google Pixels and Mac tablets), although quite a number of new phones were recently added to the list of supported devices. Likewise, the Chrome browser gameplay could not support 4K, HDR, or surround sound and the initial list of available games was small. The good news is that the list has been expanded and gamers can now enjoy popular games like Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Borderlands 3.
That said, Stadia is proving to take over the gaming industry, particularly since you can stream 4K and HDR content unlike competitors. It’s also worth noting that, depending on your proximity to Google servers and internet speed, your experience might vary, unlike consoles which are not location-dependent. And now that Google Stadia is available to stream in 4K on PC, it has just become more appealing. All you need to enjoy various Stadia titles is a Chromecast Ultra or a laptop, phone, and a game controller of your choosing. This can be Google’s Stadia Controller, PS4’s DualShock4 gamepad, or Xbox One controller. Most importantly, you need a good internet speed to stream seamlessly. Here are the full details of resolutions and internet speeds that Stadia supports:
- • 720p (60 fps Stereo) – 10Mbps
- • 1080p (HDR Video 60 fps 5.1 Surround) – 20Mbps
- • 4K (HDR Video 60 fps 5.1 Surround) – 30Mbps
Unfortunately, some of the features that Google promised are still missing, including Google Assistant Support and YouTube Gaming (which allows direct streaming to YouTube). That said, you get seamless transfer between platforms and it also comes with screen capture, a feature that most people will find appealing, especially in this age of social media. Additionally, the Friends List is a great feature that allows you to party up friends to enjoy your favorite game together.
How Google Stadia Works
Think of Stadia as cloud gaming, that is, you can stream games without the need for physical components. What happens is that when you want to play a certain game, it's rendered on a remote server instead of a local device like Xbox One or PS4. The game is then streamed to your device where you can control it using a controller of your choice. There are two ways that you can play Stadia games via the cloud:
- Buy a monthly subscription – for this, you need Stadia Pro which will cost you $10 per month and allows you to stream games in 4K resolution with 5.1 surround sound. You also stand to gain from occasional complimentary games and discounts on all the games you purchase on Stadia. Currently, Stadia Pro subscription offers Destiny 2 free of charge with more games set to be offered for free in the near future. Reports have also been making rounds about Google launching a Stadia Base option sometime in 2020 where you won't need to pay a monthly subscription to play games. However, you’ll be required to buy the games at full price.
- Install games onto a remote PC where you can log in remotely and play your games. When it was first launched, users had a choice of two: Founder’s Edition and Premier Edition. Both were offered at $129/£119 and they both came with a controller, a Chromecast Ultra and a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro. After the three-month subscription expires, you are required to pay $9.99/£8.99 per month which is automatically deducted from your specified card. This means that you need a credit card when signing up for Google Stadia. The signup and streaming process of Google Stadia is done via an app on iOS or Android. Once it's successful and you're logged in, you can cast your game from your phone’s app to your Chromecast Ultra that comes with the edition.
Google leaned on simplicity, which is evident in Stadia’s interface. Whether you're on a smartphone or computer, your home screen contains all the games in your collection with the topmost being the one you played last. On both layouts, you’ll find options to find and add friends to a party and access to your collection of game screenshots. On the mobile, you’ll find additional options, such as Stadia Store, news and blog post from the Stadia team, and a feed with videos.
Google Stadia Controller
Currently, Google Stadia is available right away for gamers who bought the Founder’s Edition before it went out of stock. The same applies if you purchased or order the Premier Edition bundle from the Google Store right now. You need an access code to play Stadia and its only payable on the Chromecast Ultras that came with both editions. In other words, if you don’t have a Google Stadia bundle, you need to get the gaming kit, which is only available on the Google Store, to be able to use the streaming service. Bought separately, Stadia Controller costs $69/£59 and you can choose from a variety of colors, including Wasabi, just Black, Clear White, and Night Blue colorway (exclusive in the Founder’s Edition release). To use the Stadia Controller, you need a Wi-Fi connection to connect directly with the game that you're streaming. Its classic design resembles the DualShock 4 controller and comes with a D-pad, dual joystick, shoulder button, and face button. In addition to that, you get two extra buttons that allow you to activate Google Assistant or to capture footage. Here are some of the specs that come with the Stadia Controller:
- Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 (BLE)
- Wi-Fi Dual-band (2.4GHz / 5Ghz) IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac connectivity
- Weighs 268g • 3.5mm headset jack (fits headsets with or without a microphone)
- Capture button
- Google Assistant button triggers the microphone • Li-Ion battery • USB-C port for pairing and power
Google Stadia Games
Some of the Google Stadia games available right now include:
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
- Football Manager 2020
- Just Dance 2020
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Final Fantasy XV
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Borderlands 3
- Ghost Recon Breakpoint
- Samurai Showdown
- Farming Simulator 2019
Here’s a list of some of the games that we are looking forward to see in the list of Stadia titles:
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Marvel's Avengers
- Doom Eternal
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
- Destroy All Humans
- Baldur's Gate 3
- The Crew 2
To Consider Before Your Purchase
Stadia streaming service can be fully enjoyed if you have access to fast internet speeds, for instance, 100mbs or better. The last thing you want while playing is the constant buffering. If your internet connection is not great, you're better off sticking to playing games locally on your PC. Don’t purchase Stadia if you depend on office connections to play. On the other hand, you can't play the game on iOS devices since they can only be used to cast games to Chromecast Ultra.
- Features: Google Stadia supports 4K resolution and works on multiple devices, including mobile, computer, TV, and tablet. Stadia Premier Edition costs $129 and you get a three-month subscription after which you’ll be paying $10 per month for Stadia Pro subscription.
- Stadia Controller: it costs $69 if bought separately. The controller is offered in a variety of colors and resembles the DualShock4 controller.
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