Google Stadia is the first perfect long-term forecast for cloud games. After spending years tied to the console during the upgrade cycle, players are on vacation.
Stadia gives you access to a growing library of digital games that works wherever you go. As ambitious as it sounds, we finally tested it in our own home, and we can say with certainty that it is a real alternative to the console and, over time, a killer of the potential platform.
Google Stadia has announced several new games coming into service in its latest Stadia Connect video. Among the games released, we can cite the battlefields of Player Unknown (PUBG), Octopath Traveler, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Madden, and FIFA.
Google has announced that PUBG and Zombie Army 4 will join the Stadia Pro program this month, and has announced that it will announce even more games at the second Stadia Connect in a few months.
Many things are working well. In addition to offering surprisingly pleasant performance with little or no latency on our home network, the service also provides streaming via phone and tablet, as well as at home on PC and Chrome cast.
On top of that, Stadia integrates the live YouTube stream for games, and if you buy the first one, it comes with an ergonomic Wi-Fi driver that reduces the delay, which shows that Google has watched the stadia in all angles.
Like any other streaming service, your mileage will vary, which means that your experience could be radically different from ours, depending on your proximity to Google servers and your connection speed.
Unlike consoles, which usually do the same place to place, there is no guarantee that it is game streaming that we will all have the same experience.
Some minor service issues will improve over time, such as how Stadia manages its Pro subscriptions and limited game choices, and some major ones like the fact that there are several features such as Google Assistant and YouTube Game Integration are not currently supported.
But if Google can clear up confusion about Pro, expand the Stadia game library, and enable all of the promised functionality, it could be a complete game streaming platform.
After spending a week with it, we have a lot of ideas about Google’s ambitious game streaming platform. Still, at the end of the day, if you have the bandwidth and the ability to pay for another subscription, we recommend that you buy Premiere Edition directly or for a little longer to reach the free level of 2020.
Spend a month with Google Stadia to try it out.
Google Stadia Release Date and Price
Google Stadia is accessible to people who have ordered the Founding Edition or the Premier Edition since November 19 in 14 different regions, including the United States.
United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, Founders and Premiere editions cost $ 130 / £ 119 (around AU $ 190), but the former sold a few months ago and was replaced by the latter.
While Premiere Edition has one white and Founders Edition comes with a 30-day free trial for a friend, but both editions are delivered with a controller, Chrome cast Ultra, and a three-month Stadia subscription Pro.
After the three-month subscription expires, you will subscribe at $9.99 / $8.99 per month for a Stadia Pro subscription, which will automatically come from any card you have registered with Google. (And yes, Google Stadia, unfortunately, requires a credit card when you log in. Please note).
If you need a new controller or decide to wait until 2020 when free service becomes available and buy a controller, the Stadia controller will cost you $69/£59.
Google Stadia: What is it?
Google Stadia is the name of the new Google game streaming service, as well as the name of the store where you will buy the games. Everything you buy is yours, but you will likely pay a high price for all the games you find at Stadia.
What Stadia promises (and mainly offers) are a game streaming experience that requires only the most basic equipment: Chrome cast Ultra or your phone or laptop, as well as the controller of your choice: Google Stadia controller or Xbox controller One or DualShock4 PS4 game board.
Finally, you need an internet connection, which we thought was one of the first nails in the platform coffin, given how little we have to do with fiber. Google Stadia would work on connections at 10 Mbits/s and requires only 35 Mbits/s for a 4K Full HDR/60 fps. There is also a demand for black sheep – a subscription to the Stadia Pro.
At some point, you will no longer need the Stadia Pro to play games on the service – sometime in 2020. You will be able to buy games on the Stadia and play them on any compatible device without a subscription.
Unfortunately, you’ll need the Stadia Pro, a monthly subscription that lets you play in 4K HDR quality, to run one or two free games, and offer a discount when purchasing certain games.
More importantly, despite what the name suggests, the Stadia Pro is not Netflix and is not a buffet of games at will.
Google Stadia Design and Interface
The design and interface of the Stadia are excellent and easy to use. Both mobile and desktop, your home screen is all the games you have in your collection with the most crucial game, the last game you played.
On the desktop, you will have the option of finding and adding friends to the party, as well as accessing your collection of screenshots with photos of saved games.
The mobile layout has a similar home screen, but it also contains tabs for the Stadia store and a feed with videos, news, and blog posts from the Stadia team.
One argument I could make against the service is that there is not much depth here regarding, say, the multiple Xbox One interfaces or even the complex, organized, and very robust application of the Steam Store.
However, the opposite argument is that Google hasn’t overly complicated something that should be simple, and can still add complexity and depth to applications as more content becomes available.
Google Stadia Controller
We’ll take a closer look at the controller in a separate preview, but it’s worth spending some time here, as it’s the only way to play the service on mobile and Chrome cast.
The Stadia controller looks a bit like a standard Xbox One game card in terms of weight and familiar hand feel. The coated sticks have similarities to the Dual Shock 4 of the PS4 but have a textured crest like the Xbox One pad.
As for the face keys, you have a D-Pad with a reasonable click response, a set of four buttons of the same design as the Xbox One and four select function buttons: menu (start), options (preferred), Google Assistant and a Capture button that saves the screenshots to your account and will one day be linked to YouTube Gaming.
Last but not least, the front has a central Stadia button that turns the controller on and off.
Under the Stadia button is a 3.5mm jack for a pair of headphones, while the back has a USB-C jack for pairing and power, as well as a couple of triggers and bumpers.
The bumpers have a delicate click when pressed, but the triggers are quite soft and don’t have terrible feedback. This news is going to be a little annoying for people who play racing games or shooting games because force feedback improves the game in these genres.
Google Stadia Features
Speaking of things that will someday be available but not ready for testing, Google Assistant support or direct streaming to YouTube via YouTube games weren’t available for questioning last week. Free-loader.
So how fast will we get these features? Unfortunately Google hasn’t given us a schedule to support Google Assistant and that seems to be one of the last things added to the service.
We hope that live streaming on YouTube will start much sooner, as watching Streams on the Stage will likely encourage players to subscribe to the service.
Another missing feature that people may remember from the Stadia ad was the YouTube-Stadia cross-functionality, which lets you watch a game on YouTube, click a link, and start a game at Stadia.
It is undoubtedly still in development, but it may not be in the coming months. That said, what Stadia immediately offers is a screenshot, handy social media functionality, and a friend list, which is excellent if you want to have fun with your friends to play Destiny.
In the case of Destiny, there is also cross-protection, but it is not yet across. The two most essential start-up features are controller support, which works great again and is a secure transfer to the platform.
The latter worked surprisingly well, and although we couldn’t pick up exactly where we left off in most games, we only came back a minute or two or, in one case, a minute before where we were there.
I hope more basic functionality is available online soon, but from the start, it is good to see how the critical feature consolidates as it is.
So how do Stadia behave in the real world? It’s a question we’ve wanted to answer since the Stadia was announced, and now we finally have the answer – it’s fantastic.
For our tests in the real world, we tested Stadia on three different devices: PC in a browser, Stream to Chrome cast Ultra and on a Google Pixel phone, with three very different types of games.
Here’s what we found.
Bandwidth (wired connection higher than 150 Mbps in the browser window)
On a 150 Mbps wired connection, the Stadia is fantastic – it’s like playing a game stored locally on your computer.
For our PC test, we played the first few hours of Stage’s exclusive GYLT in a standard Chrome browser and didn’t notice any discarded images or artifacts during the entire hour-long session.
Of course, there was a short buffer period when the game was first released, but after that, it was stopped completely.
Indeed, we will probably continue to play scene games, especially those that require ultra-specific timing (shooters and fighting games, as you will see in a second) or games that work better with the keyboard and mouse.
Bandwidth (Wi-Fi connection greater than 50 Mbps with Chrome cast Ultra)
Going from a wired connection to a dual-band 5 GHz connection, the Stadia has always managed it very well with only minor audio problems affecting impeccable performance.
For this test, we tested something we knew well on a 4K HDR TV – Fate 2 – Broadcast from the Stadia app on our phone to the Chrome cast Ultra in the living room. Despite our reservations, Destiny 2 went well in 4K/60 on a wireless connection at 50 Mbps without delays or noticeable artifacts, even during particularly intense filming.
Performance (on a 15 Mbps Wi-Fi connection with Pixel 3a XL)
For our last test, we tested the Stage on a new Wi-Fi network, which, according to the Ookla speed test, reached around 15 Mbps. After participating in this test, we expected the worst: that Stadia practically did not play. Fortunately, we were wrong.
Using the Pixel 3a XL provided by Google for our review, we tested the streaming service using minimal specifications to see how it would work with a delay-sensitive game like Mortal Kombat 11.
Although there are undoubtedly a few slowdowns that we would describe in a second, most of the time, we didn’t see any noticeable problems.
So what does a spike in the connection look like? The first thing you will notice is that Stadia is trying to reduce the resolution from HD to sub-HD, and if that doesn’t fix the problem, the game will slow down and start the action quickly.
Precisely what we have seen on services like PlayStation Now, so it’s not entirely unexpected here.
The silver lining is that this type of slowdown, while annoying and potentially destructive to any player and a player environment, was not as terrible as it would make us give up as we felt in the past with other services.
When the peak occurred, we were generally able to walk for a few more minutes without another prominent peak occurring.
Google Stadia 2020 and Beyond
In a recent blog post, Google says it is on track to bring 120 games to the cloud service in 2020, 10 of which will be stadia-exclusive. In addition to the new games, Google says.
Stadia will be able to download 4K games from the web this year and says Stadia will support other non-Pixel Android phones.
The latest platform updates include the ability to use any Chrome cast Ultra to play Stage, so how does this behave in the real world?
It’s a question to the point where we want to respond to the stadia announcement, and we continuously have the answer – it’s inclusive. For our real-world tests, we tested Stadia on three different devices: PC in a browser, Streaming for Chrome cast Ultra and Google Pixel phone, with three very different types of games. Here’s what we found.
Bandwidth (filament connection greater than 150 Mbps in the browser window) on a 150 Mbps connection, the scene is incremental – it’s like playing a game on your desktop.