Update: November 7, 2019: We have updated this post with the info that the Google Stadia app is now available to download.
Last year, Google announced Project Stream, a limited streaming test built around Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. After a short test period in January, the project ended and Google kept pretty quiet about its future game streaming plans. At GDC 2019, Google finally broke the silence with the announcement of Stadia.
What is Google Stadia?
The new Stadia service is built for gamers of all backgrounds. The cloud-based service works seamlessly with Chromecast Ultra when connected to a TV. It will also support the Chrome Browser with desktops, laptops, and tablets (including Chrome OS). It will also support a limited number of smartphones. Specifically, Stadia will work with Google’s Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a and the new Pixel 4 devices. It features the ability to instantly switch to devices within seconds, making it possible to take your game experience anywhere — as long as you have a capable internet connection that is.
The service is based on Linux and uses Vulkan. It will support many of the most popular game development engines, including Unreal and Unity.
The official Google Stadia app is now available to download ahead of the actual launch date.
Hardware specs, system requirements, and features
As a cloud-based service, all the heavy lifting with Stadia is performed by a remote PC. That means it doesn’t really matter whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or computer — the experience will be the same. Google says that Stadia users will have access to the power of a custom AMD 2.7GHz x86 processor with 16GB RAM, up to 484GB/s transfer speed, and a GPU that has 10.7 teraflops of power.
Stadia gives you the same experience from any device, as long as you have the connection to handle it
Stadia is reportedly more powerful than any gaming console on the market right now. It also has the advantage of being easier to upgrade as hardware upgrades happen remotely at the server-side. Depending on your connection, you can choose from 1080p up to 4K. 4K support is at 60fps with HDR and full surround sound support. In the future, Google will also offer 8K gaming support, though it doesn’t specify how far off that is. Don’t expect VR support for now either, with the firm simply saying it has “no news to share at this point.”
You will need a 35Mbps connection to stream games on the service with 4K resolution and 60fps, along with 5.1 surround sound. Your connection will need at least 20Mbps to support 1080p gaming and 5.1 sound, and 10Mbps for 720p gaming and stereo sound. By the way, Stadia only supports Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet connections for now; it will not support wireless cellular connections.
Other Stadia features worth highlighting include:
- Google Assistant support: Imagine you’re stuck and need some help. Ask Assistant and it’ll give you the advice you need. It’s even possible to overlay a tutorial video on the screen that will walk you through.
- State Share: Sharing is a big part of the Stadia experience. With this feature, both gamers and YouTubers can instantly share a playable moment from a game. Basically, a gamer will click on the State Share and are transported to the very moment in the game that the friend/YouTuber wants to show off. It’s not just a video clip, you actually get to experience the action for yourself.
The Stadia Controller is the optimal way to play
This $69 proprietary controller connects via Wi-Fi and directly to Google’s servers for a lag-free experience. Some of its key features include built-in Google Assistant support and a Capture button for saving and capturing gaming experience to YouTube.
Of course, you don’t need to use the Stadia controller. While it’s arguably the best way to play, any existing input scheme should work including controllers, mice, and keyboards. The Stadia controller itself can also be plugged into your phone, tablet, or PC via a USB cable if you want to use it as a gamepad in locally stored titles or if you want to save battery life. One thing about the Stadia controller is that it will only connect wirelessly with a TV that has a Chromecast Ultra plugged into it.
Stadia integrates with YouTube
Stadia has several unique features that are built around YouTube:
- Crowd Play: Imagine you’re watching a YouTube livestream and all of a sudden the YouTuber opens up the game to the audience. You can hit a button and instantly jump right into the game. Not all the details about this have been revealed just yet, but it sounds pretty cool.
- Instant jump into a game from trailers: Imagine seeing a streaming clip from your favorite host or maybe from a trailer. Google promises you’ll be able to push play and instantly jump into the game — just like that. Again, we don’t know all the details of this feature just yet.
A gaming platform is nothing without games and at launch, Google Stadia will have a number of major games, and even a couple of exclusive titles. Some of the games that will be available include highly anticipated upcoming games like Doom Eternal, Baldur’s Gate III, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Borderlands 3, along with recent game hits like Destiny 2, Mortal Kombat 11, The Division 2, Rage 2, and more. You can check out the current list of Stadia games at the link below.
Read more: Google Stadia games: The full list
Interestingly, Google has also announced its own first-party game studio dubbed Stadia Games and Entertainment. Not only will this studio work on its own experiences, but it will also help developers — big and small — implement Stadia technology into their titles. Google recently opened its first in-house game development studio in Montreal, to make titles exclusively for Stadia.
Ubisoft has also confirmed that its Uplay Plus subscription service is coming to Stadia in 2020. More details weren’t forthcoming, but the PC version of the service delivers access to over 100 games for $14.99 a month.
When is it coming and how much will it cost?
Google Stadia is launching November 19 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and 11 countries in Europe. Pricing will be $9.99 a month in the U.S. for the Stadia Pro service, which will offer access to roughly a game a month (starting with Destiny 2).
Google was selling a limited “Founder’s Edition” version pf Stadia for $129 in the US. It included a Night Blue color controller and a Chromecast Ultra dongle. It also included three months of Stadia Pro, a buddy pass for three months of Stadia Pro to give to a friend, and first access to claim your Stadia name. However, Google announced that the Stadia Founder’s Edition had sold out in the US and the other launch countries on October 22.
Google is still selling a Premiere Edition for Stadia in all launch countries. It bundles a Clearly White Stadia Controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro, and the full Destiny 2 collection. The price remains $129.
Google has stated that Stadia controllers will begin shipping November 19 in the same order that the pre-orders were made. When it does ship, you’ll receive an email and a code to activate your Stadia account.
Stadia also plans to offer an unknown number of games for sale individually via Stadia. In 2020, the company will launch a free version of Stadia with a 1080p resolution cap. You can get more info on pricing, the release date and availability for Stadia at the link below.