Google Stadia is arguably one of the long term forecasts of cloud gaming. The Stadia Google gaming platform enables your access to an increasing digital game library that is available anywhere you find yourself. Based on reports that have been garnered thus far, the platform can be described as a true alternative to consoles. The Google gaming platform ensures you have an enjoyable experience with almost no latency on networks. There is also on-the-go streaming via mobile phones and tablets, including phones and tablets as well as via PCs and Chromecast at the convenience of your homes.
The Stadia Google gaming platform also offers built-in YouTube Gaming live-streaming. If you opt for the Premiere Edition, it comes with an ergonomic Wi-Fi controller which ensures reduction of latency and this is a pointer that Google has done a lot of background work on Stadia.
In comparison to its competitors in the market, it was discovered that Stadia performed better than PlayStation Now when stability is considered. Meanwhile, although another rival Geforce Now comes with the promise of a larger library, Stadia goes a step further by streaming 4K HDR, and this feature is not currently supported by Geforce Now.
It must be noted that the Google gaming platform is not the perfect streaming service as they all come with their shortcomings. It must be considered that mileage amongst users could vary. This means that the experiences of users may be different due to their proximity to Google serves as well as their connection speeds. This is different from consoles as there are no guarantees that all users will have the same user experience.
Meanwhile, some challenges were noted although they should be fixed with time. Google Stadia’s handling of its Pro subscriptions and limited game selection is a downside, and more so, as a feature like YouTube Gaming integration is not currently supported.
However, we’ll advise that folks should go for the Premiere Edition if they have enough bandwidth and the financial capacity to pay for another subscription. If this is not the case, it is advisable to wait a bit longer for the free tier in 2020.
GOOGLE STADIA PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
For the Google Stadia price, folks who ordered the Founders Edition or Premiere Edition from November 19 can have access to Google Stadia. It’s available in 14 different territories thus far, including the US, Canada, and the UK. Both aforementioned editions cost $130 / £119 (around AU$190). It must be noted that the Founders Edition sold out months ago and was replaced by the Premiere Edition. Both of them have some minor differences.
The Founders Edition comprises a Blue Stadia Controller while the Premiere Edition comes with a white one. The Founders Edition also comes with a 30-day trial for a friend, albeit, both editions have a controller, a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro and a Chromecast Ultra.
Once the three-month subscription expires, you’ll be required to pay $9.99 / £8.99 monthly for your Stadia Pro subscription and this will be automatically from any card you have filed in your transactions with Google. It must be noted that Google Stadia requires a credit card when you sign up. Meanwhile, the Google Stadia games controller will cost you between $69 and £59 if you choose to opt for the Premiere Edition or wait for the free service to be launched.
WHAT IS GOOGLE STADIA?
Google Stadia is the name of the new game streaming service from Google and the store from which you’ll buy the games. You will be required to pay the full price for any games you wish to buy and will be able to keep them for yourself.
Stadia ensures that you have a game streaming experience that requires the most basic of equipment such as a phone, laptop, or Chromecast Ultra alongside a controller of your choice. This could be Google’s own Stadia Controller, the PS4 dual shock controller, or the Xbox One controller.
The Stadia Google gaming platform also requires an active internet connection. The game streaming service works on 10Mbps connections and requires juts 35Mbps for full 4K HDR/60fps.
It must not be forgotten that the black sheep requirement could be a need sometimes. This is the Stadia Pro subscription. However, it is expected that at some point in 2020, users will be able to buy games on Stadia and play them on any supported device without the need for any subscription. However, you’ll need Stadia Pro and this is a monthly subscription that grants you access to play games in 4K HDR quality.
DEVICES THAT SUPPORT THE GOOGLE STADIA APP
The signup and streaming service are activated through the use of the Google Stadia app on Android and iOS. After logging in, you can choose to Cast a game from the app to your Chromecast Ultra which comprises either of the two editions or opt for Stadia.com and stream to your PC.
There is a third option but it is tricky. You can connect a Stadia Controller to Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3a, or Google Pixel 4 phone and stream directly from the device. Any attempt to stream from any other device will see you being asked to connect to a Chromecast Ultra.
These three steps of accessing Google Stadia games come with their pros and cons. Meanwhile, see a list of the games available on Stadia’s launch.
STADIA LAUNCH GAMES
- Farming Simulator 2019
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Grid 2019
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Samurai Shodown
- Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
- Metro Exodus
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Tomb Raider 2013
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- Just Dance 2020
GOOGLE STADIA INTERFACE AND DESIGN
The interface design is brilliant and very user-friendly. Whether it’s being used on mobile or desktop, your home screen comprises all the games in your collection as well as the game which you played last.
Whilst using on a desktop device, you’ll be able to find friends and add them to a party, and also access your screenshot collection with photos of the games you’ve taken. The mobile layout has a similar home screen, as well as tabs for the Stadia Store, video feed, blog posts, and news from the Stadia team. There’s no over-complication or complexity in the usage of the app and this is a strong point of defense when it’s compared to other similar apps.
GOOGLE STADIA CONTROLLER
The Stadia Controller has the feel of a standard Xbox One gamepad if the heft and a familiar feel in the hands are considered. It comes with aligned sticks that bear resemblance to the PS4’s DualShock 4 although they have a textured ridge similar to the Xbox One’s gamepad.
When the face buttons are considered, their responsiveness is moderate. It’s a set of four-lettered buttons in a similar layout as the Xbox One and four special function buttons, namely:
- Menu (start)
- Options (select)
- Google Assistant
- Capture button – This button saves screenshots to your account and should connect to YouTube gaming soon.
The front also has a Stadia center button that switches the controller on or off. A 3.5mm jack for a pair of headphones can be seen under the Stadia Button while a USB-C port for pairing and power will be seen on the back alongside a pair of triggers and bumpers.
When the bumpers are depressed, they produce a responsive click although the triggers don’t have any haptic feedback. The lack of a force-feedback will be a major concern for folks who love racing and shooting games as the feature enhances the gameplay in the aforementioned genres.
The Stadia Controller will serve as the de-facto controller for the next few months and is available in both the Founders and Premiere Editions. According to Gooogle, there will be support for the Xbox One and DualShock 4 gamepads although the specific time for the implementation has not been given.
FEATURES OF GOOGLE STADIA
As mentioned earlier, direct streaming to YouTube via YouTube Gaming are not yet available but should be soon. Direct streaming to YouTube is expected to be available soon as streamers on the Google gaming platform will encourage gamers to sign up for the service. Other missing features still not available at the time of writing include the YouTube-Stadia crossover which is still in development.
The screen capture feature is available as well as a Friends list. There is also the cross-save feature in the case of Destiny but the crossplay is not yet available. The two major available features at launch are Controller support and a seamless transfer between platforms. More core features are expected to be available soon but it’s a plus that the keystone features are already available.
Google Stadia works awesomely. When tested on three different devices namely: PC in a browser, Google Pixel Phone, and Casting to a Chromecast Ultra, with different games, the following results were arrived at:
Performance (on a 150Mbps hard-wired connection in a browser window)
Playing a game on Stadia on a 150Mbps hard-wired connection is like on a game installed locally on your PC. No single frames were dropped and no artifacting of any sort was experienced throughout the hour-long sessions of game playing. Although there was a brief buffer period on the initial launch of the games, it was entirely seamless afterward.
Performance (on a 50Mbps Wi-Fi connection with Chromecast Ultra)
A step down on the connection capacity to a dual-band 5GHz connection came with little audio impairment issues. Otherwise, it was another smooth experience.
Performance (on a 15Mpbs Wi-Fi connection with Pixel 3a XL)
It was believed that playing games on the Stadia Google gaming platform would be impossible with this connection but this was eventually not the case. There were some slowdowns in the gameplay but there were no noticeable issues. It works such that Stadia drops the HD to sub-HD and if the problem is not rectified by this action, the game itself will become very slow and then catch up on the action immediately. This is similar to what happens at PlayStation Now and comes as no major surprise.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM GOOGLE STADIA IN 2020 AND BEYOND.
According to a recent blog post, Google revealed that measures have been put in place to ensure that 120 games are introduced to the cloud service in 2020, and 10 from the lot will be Stadia exclusives. As the new games are added, Stadia will be able to stream games in 4k on the internet later this year while Stadia support will also be provided to other Android phones asides from the Pixel.
Meanwhile, recent updates have been carried out on the platform and they include the ability to use any Chromecast Ultra to play Stadia, and not just the ones that came with the Founders Pack. There are also 5 games on offer with the Stadia Pro subscription namely; Thumper, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Samurai Showdown, Farming Simulator 19 and Destiny 2.
The Google Assistant Functionality has been added recently alongside achievements although Google has reiterated that it still needs to implement Assistant on PC and provide support for wireless gameplay on the web through the use of the Stadia controller. Meanwhile, note the following:
BUY IT IF:
You’re a gamer that has access to connection speeds of 100Mbps or better
It has been pointed out that Google Stadia is a streaming service and depends majorly on factors like the speed of your internet connections and proximity from Google’s servers.
You’re tired of doing downloads, updates and buying expensive hardware
Regardless of whether you play games on PC or console, you’ve gone through the hassles of massive downloads that take minutes and hours. However, as games are fully updated on Stadia’s servers, you’ll never have any cause to engage in any form of downloads.
DON’T BUY IT IF:
You’re an ultra-competitive gamer looking for a new platform
Playing games on Stadia with a slow internet connection will come with its shortcomings. The platform is very fast on 100+ Mbps connections but it’ll never outpace playing the game locally on your gaming PC.
You only use iOS or play games at the office
iOS devices are a no-go. This is because they can only Cast games to Chromecast Ultra and not stream them. It’s also not ideal to use stream Stadia games on your office connection.