BY RICK MARSH: Google Stadia is being billed as a game changer. The streaming service will offer access to a platform of games, and rather than forcing users to download the games they want to play, they will stream directly onto a Google Chrome browser and a host of mobile devices. It’s effectively a combination of Netflix and Xbox Game Pass.
It is expected launch by the end of the year and the technology giant has announced some of the games that will be available at launch. We also know how much it will cost to buy, and how much users will have to pay if they want access to all games on the platform.
Most importantly, early tests have proven positive, with testers saying that it was difficult to discern between streaming games and traditional local gaming – this will be the biggest test of the service and it will remain to be seen whether Google can achieve this even with millions of players playing at a time.
Early adopters will be able to pick up Stadia Pro in November 2019. This will cost users a monthly subscription of £8.99, but this allows you to play any of the games on the platform and for as long as you want. It also allows for streaming up to 4K at 60fps with surround sound. While it does offer access to the existing library of games, it will only offer a discount on new releases, so you will still have to buy the very latest AAA titles as they are released.
Next year, Google has said that it will release a Base subscription. This will be free, but you will have to pay to purchase games – once a game has been purchased, you’re free to play it forever. The Base subscription will be limited to Full HD at 60fps, and you will only get stereo sound instead of surround or 3D sound, which are part of the Pro subscription.
As well as the subscription, you will also need something to play the games on. Initially, you will be able to play on any Chrome browser using the Chromecast Ultra streaming device, and you will be able to play directly through a PC or laptop. Gamers will also be able to play on their Pixel 3 and Pixel 3A phones, with more mobile phones offering support later.
There are dedicated Stadia controllers, too, and these have received positive reviews from those fortunate enough to have got their hands on one already. Other controllers will work with the device, too.
The Founder’s Edition
The Google Stadia Founder’s Edition, which costs £119 and can be pre-ordered already, will be available at launch. This bundles a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller. You also receive 2 free 3 month Pro subscriptions; one for you and one for a friend and the full Destiny 2 game.
New consoles tend to live or die by the roster of games that they launch with, and it seems likely that this will be the case with the Stadia, even though it isn’t strictly a games console. Google has announced a number of titles that will be available from day one.
Destiny 2 is clearly the flagship title for launch. Other big titles that have been announced include Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Baldur’s Gate 3, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, DOOM Eternal, and The Division 2. Looking at the game reviews of these titles, it’s hard to argue with the quality of games coming to the platform. You can see a bigger list of games on the Google Stadia page.
The Verdict So Far
Reviewers seem happy with the controller but have indicated that there is still a noticeable difference between Stadia and local console gaming, in terms of lag and delay. They have gone on to say that the service might be better suited to strategy and slower playing games, rather than competitive multiplayer games, but if any company can pull off the impossible and offer a streaming service that offers the same kind of experience as console gaming, it will be a company with the kind of connections and investment as Google.
What do you think about the Google Stadia? Will you be getting one on release? If not, why not?