Not content with owning online video, internet search and the world’s most-used mobile operating system, Google fancies itself a slice of the video game pie. Earlier this year it announced Stadia, and now it’s finally revealed how much the Google “console” will cost, when it’s coming out and the first games it will launch with. Here’s everything you need to know.
Google Stadia Key Facts
Stadia UK release date: November 19
Stadia UK price: £119 for Founder’s Edition
What’s this Google Stadia console all about, then?
It’s not a console – not in the traditional sense, anyway: it’s a game streaming platform. Games will be beamed over the internet to your TV, phone, tablet or computer through the power of Google magic (powerful servers located all around the world). You just need a Chromecast Ultra to play on your TV, and you can even use an Xbox controller, though Google has its own controller, too.
So it’s Netflix for games?
Sort of, but not really. We’ll return to this in a moment.
When is Stadia coming out?
Google confirmed at its annual Pixel phone event that Stadia will launch on November 19, 2019 in 14 countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United States and, of course, the United Kingdom.
How much will Stadia cost in the UK?
The Stadia Founder’s Edition, which includes a limited edition Night Blue controller (£59 normally), a Chromecast Ultra and a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro, costs £119 and is available to pre-order now. Also included is a three-month “Buddy Pass” so you can give Stadia Pro to a friend. Did someone say secondary market?
Stadia Pro? Is this the Netflix part?
Sort of, but not really. It’s complicated.
Stadia Pro is the subscription element of Stadia. It’s £8.99 per month, which gives you access to (some) free games as well as paid ones – it’s not clear how many or which games will be free just yet – plus gaming at 4K with HDR running at 60 frames per second.
The best way to think about Stadia Pro is like PlayStation Plus or the Xbox Game Pass, rather than Netflix. You get free games, but not all games will be free and you’ll lose access to your free games if you cancel. And, of course, that monthly price includes the cost of using Google’s streaming hardware to enjoy your games.
Stadia Pro will be the only way to enjoy the platform when it launches in November, but Google plans to open an entry-level tier in 2020 called Stadia Base that won’t have a monthly subscription.
Oh, really? Tell me more about Stadia Base
Sure, but there’s not much to tell just yet. Stadia Base will be limited to 1080p gaming with stereo sound only, as opposed to the 4K HDR and surround sound glory of Stadia Pro. You also won’t get the “free” games Stadia Pro subscribers have access to.
There will be no monthly subscription to use Base, you’ll just buy the games you want and “keep” them forever. As with all digital services, however, “keep” is a loaded term. If Stadia stops existing one day, you’ll probably lose access to the games you bought.
Here’s another important point: Stadia Base won’t work on TVs. It’s limited to Chrome browsers on any PC and Pixel phones (the Pixel 3 and 3a range at launch). So, if you want to play games on your TV, you’ll need a Stadia Pro subscription.
This will need a fast internet connection, surely?
Absolutely. Google says a minimum of 30mbps is required to play games at 4K at 60fps, while 20mbps is needed to play games at 1080p. This needs to be a constant speed, too. If your connection fluctuates, or your Wi-Fi sucks, then you could run into problems. This graphic from Google explains what you get with your internet connection.
What about lag? Could this be a problem?
It’s the biggest question among hardcore gamers. To explain, lag – also known as latency – is the time between you making an input on a keyboard or gamepad and that action appearing on-screen. High latency can cause games to feel sluggish, even if the actual frame rate is high. It’s also a serious issue for competitive online gaming, where low latency is an advantage, and spikes in latency are a useful excuse to use if you get killed. “OMG, laaaaaag!”
Naturally, Google says it won’t be a problem. Tests conducted by Digital Foundry earlier this year suggested Stadia has latency of around 166 to 200 milliseconds (ms), compared to 80 to 120ms on a PC and 145ms on an Xbox One X. In other words, Stadia’s latency is comparable to existing consoles but will be noticeable compared to playing on a PC.
But this is all conjecture until Stadia is out in the real world. This is just one test in somewhat ideal conditions, and, as anyone who has suffered from iffy Wi-Fi will attest, it’s hard to predict how well it will work in your home. This is a real suck it and see kind of deal.
What games will launch on Stadia?
The launch line-up is “evolving” at the moment – i.e. Google’s still negotiating with publishers. Here are the companies confirmed to be working with Google and the games they’re providing.
Doom 2016, Rage 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online are the existing games coming from Bethesda. It also plans to launch the upcoming Doom Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood on Stadia.
It only has one game, namely Destiny 2, which has already been confirmed for launch. In fact, anyone who pre-orders Stadia gets access to the full experience, including all of the add-ons and the upcoming Shadowkeepexpansion.
Capcom, EA and Rockstar
All three companies will be announcing which games are coming to Stadia at a later date. Expect to hear more at E3 2019.
Square Enix is offering a selection of existing games: Final Fantasy XV, Tomb Raider Denitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raiderand Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Ubisoft’s existing titles (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance, The Division 2 , Trials Rising, The Crew 2) will be joined by Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which is due out in October.
Other games confimred for Stadia
– Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
– Get Packed
– Metro Exodus
– Farming Simulator 19
– Baldur’s Gate 3
– Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
– Football Manager
– Samurai Showdown
– Mortal Kombat 11
– Darksiders Genesis