Update: October 15, 2019: We have updated this post with the official launch date for Google Stadia, November 19.
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, the Chrome Browser, desktops, laptops, tablets (including Chrome OS), and phones, starting with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a 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. Stadia will support many of the most popular game development engines, including Unreal and Unity.
Google Stadia: 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 and 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 Stadia 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.
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.
Stadia game support
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, it will also help developers — big and small — implement Stadia technology into their titles.
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 is also selling a limited “Founder’s Edition” version that includes a Night Blue color controller, a Chromecast Ultra dongle, 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. It will cost $129 in the U.S and is available to pre-order now by clicking the button below.
The Founder’s Edition setup went up for sale in Europe as well but quickly sold out. As such, Google rolled out a new Premiere Edition which offers a Clearly White Stadia Controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro, and the full Destiny 2 collection. The blue controller, a buddy pass, and first-access to create your username are no longer available.
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.