It’s not a new concept - we’ve had PlayStation Now for years and Nvidia’s GeForce Now provides a similar experience to what Google is trying to achieve – but with the grunt of the big G behind such a project, Stadia has the makings of something particularly impressive.
Here’s what you need to know about Google Stadia, from its games lineup to controller details, tech specs and key features of the streaming service - including how much it costs.
Read our full Google Stadia review.
What is Google Stadia?
Stadia is Google’s vision for the future of gaming; a cloud-based service accessible across a range of devices, without the need for a high-end gaming PC or a console. It’s a streaming service with international data centres and so as long as you have a fast enough internet connection, you could theoretically play your favourite games in any supported region globally.
It’s more than just a streaming service though; Stadia is an evolving platform all its own, with high-end specs that could eventually deliver an 8K, 120fps gaming environment, according to Google. There isn’t a physical Stadia console; as Google’s Phil Harrison first revealed, it will eventually run “wherever YouTube is”, be it on a smart TV, laptop, tablet, smartphone, desktop or Chromecast-connected display.
The system is designed to reduce the friction of modern-day gaming. According to Google, Stadia loads games in five seconds or less, allowing you to purchase a digital game and play instantly, rather than having to wait for gigabytes on gigabytes of updates and patches to install first. It’s tied heavily to YouTube, with the idea that you can go from watching to gaming (and vice-versa) seamlessly. Following the 14 July Stadia Connect stream, you'll start to see 'Click to Play' links when watching game trailers or gameplay videos on YouTube, but it goes further than that.
As well as being able to play games at up to [email protected] (on both the Chromecast Ultra and, more recently, compatible laptops) you’ll eventually be able to stream to YouTube simultaneously. This should not only generate more content for YouTube but should also encourage engagement, thanks to something called Crowd Play. It’s a promised feature of Stadia that will allow you to invite friends or viewers to join you when streaming on YouTube and even let them influence gameplay - with the Dead by Daylight being the first title to implement the feature when it arrives in September 2020.
State Share is another feature of the service, which allows players to share a link that will pull other users into their game session at that point in time or, in the case of Crayta - the first game to use this feature - the ability to share creations instantly with other users directly.
When/where is Google Stadia available?
Google Stadia launched on 19 November 2019 in 14 countries, including the US (excluding Hawaii), the UK and Canada. There’s no confirmation yet about when other areas and territories might be added to the roster but it’s clear that the intention is for this to go worldwide sooner or later.
How much does Google Stadia cost?
It's important to note that the initial November 2019 launch signified the arrival of Stadia Pro, which costs £8.99/$9.99 a month and includes access to select games from Stadia's ever-growing library, for free.
A free model called Stadia Base, which tops out at Full HD resolution, delivers stereo sound and doesn't include any free games, is now also available.
|Max resolution/frame rate||[email protected]||[email protected]|
|Audio||5.1 surround sound||Stereo sound|
|Availability||Available now||Available now|
You can sign up to Stadia Pro from Google, and if you join right now you can play for free, with Google making one month of Stadia Pro available to anyone (in a supported country) during the global pandemic. Right now, this grants you access to a potential 19 games for free, including Destiny 2.
You can also still buy the Premiere Edition. As of June 2020 priced at £89/$99, this gets you a Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra and you're still eligible for a free month of Stadia Pro. Note that this bundle originally cost more and included three months of Pro, but that version of the Premiere Edition is no longer available.
If it's additional Stadia controllers that you're after, Google offers three colours (excluding the exclusive pre-order Night Blue model): Clearly White, Just Black and Wasabi. Each costs £59/$69.
What devices can I play Stadia on?
Stadia didn't arrive quite as fully-formed as Google first envisioned. It originally only worked with Google's Chromecast Ultra (specifically the one that came in-box with the pre-order Founder's Edition) and the official Stadia controller (now bundled in the Premiere Edition).
Stadia streaming is now also supported on a host of Android phones, including the latest Pixel 4 line and Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra, as well as any Chrome OS-enabled tablet or any computer with an up-to-date version of Google's Chrome web browser.
Other Android users (along with iOS users) are officially still left out in the cold for the time being. You can download the app on any phone, but right now it will only let you manage your account and purchase new games or content.
Android users do at least get the option of trying to run Stadia on other phones, but support is still experimental. And we mean that literally - you have to open the Stadia app and go to the 'Experiments' tab to select 'play on this device'. It should work fine, but smooth performance isn't guaranteed - and iOS users are still fresh out of luck.
Here's a full list of officially compatible phones as of July 2020:
- Google Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel 3
- Google Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a
- Google Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4
- Google Pixel 4 XL
- OnePlus 5
- OnePlus 5T
- OnePlus 6
- OnePlus 6T
- OnePlus 7
- OnePlus 7 Pro
- OnePlus 7T
- OnePlus 7T Pro
- OnePlus 8
- OnePlus 8 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Samsung Galaxy S8+
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Samsung Galaxy S9+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Samsung Galaxy S10
- Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Razer Phone
- Razer Phone 2
- ASUS ROG Phone
- ASUS ROG Phone 2
Stadia vs other streaming services
Shadow is a cloud-based streaming service that provides a full Windows 10 experience accessible across a range of devices, from PCs to laptops and mobile devices. It’s focused around gaming with access to the equivalent of a GTX 1080, alongside 12GB of RAM, and depending on your internet connection, you can get up to [email protected] playback.
It’s a slightly different approach to Stadia, as Google’s offering looks to be a curated collection of games rather than a cloud-based Windows desktop, but it allows you to install PC games that you already own - something not possible with Stadia.
Sony's PlayStation Now service costs the same as Stadia and grants gamers access to a curated list of PlayStation titles, however, streaming is only possible to a PC or PlayStation console right now.
Project xCloud is the beta cloud gaming experience that Microsoft is in the process of trialling. It's currently free to play and grants access to some 50+ Xbox titles but users need to be granted access to use the service in the first place. Project xCloud is accessible via compatible Android devices and requires a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox controller to function.
What games does Stadia offer?
At launch, there were 30 games available for purchase on the service. That total has since grown to 66 (as of the Stadia Connect on 14 July 2020) with a further 40 confirmed titles joining the roster throughout 2020/2021, all listed below. A changing assortment of free games is made available for Stadia Pro players to claim each month too.
Here's the full list of 106 games so far (including titles that are 'coming soon' and excluding DLC packs for existing games):
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla (coming soon)
- Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
- Baldur's Gate 3 (coming soon)
- Borderlands 3
- The Crew 2
- Cris Tales (coming soon)
- Cyberpunk 2077 (coming soon)
- Darksiders Genesis
- Dead by Daylight (coming soon)
- Destiny 2
- Destroy All Humans (coming soon)
- DIRT 5 (coming soon)
- Doom 2016 (coming soon)
- Doom 64
- Doom Eternal
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- El Hijo - A Wild West Tale (coming soon)
- F1 2020
- Far Cry 6 (coming soon)
- Farming Simulator 19
- FIFA (coming soon)
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Get Packed
- Gods & Monsters (coming soon)
- Gunsport (coming soon)
- Hello Neighbor (coming soon)
- Hello Neighbor: Hide & Seek (coming soon)
- Hitman (coming soon)
- Hitman 2 (coming soon)
- Hitman 3 (coming soon)
- Jotun: Valhalla Edition
- Just Dance 2020
- Just Shapes & Beats
- KONA (coming soon)
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- Little Nightmares
- Little Nightmares 2 (coming soon)
- Lost Words: Beyond the Page
- Madden NFL (coming soon)
- Marvel's Avengers (coming soon)
- Metro 2033 Redux
- Metro Exodus
- Metro: Last Light Redux
- Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
- Monster Energy Supercross
- Mortal Kombat 11
- NBA 2K20
- NBA 2K21 (coming soon)
- Octopath Traveler
- One Hand Clapping
- Orcs Must Die 3!
- Outcasters (coming soon)
- Outriders (coming soon)
- Panzer Dragoon
- PGA Tour 2K21 (coming soon)
- PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
- Rage 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- République (coming soon)
- Relicta (coming soon)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Rock of Ages 3 (coming soon)
- Samurai Shodown
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (coming soon)
- Serious Sam 4 (coming soon)
- Serious Sam Collection
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Sniper Elite 4 (coming soon)
- Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (coming soon)
- SteamWorld Dig
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- Steamworld Heist
- Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
- Strange Brigade (coming soon)
- Sundered: Eldritch Edition
- Super Bomberman R Online (coming soon)
- Superhot: Mind Control Delete (coming soon)
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
- Tom Clancy's The Division 2
- Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
- Trials Rising
- The Turing Test
- Watch Dogs Legion (coming soon)
- Wave Break
- West of Loathing
- Windbound (coming soon)
- Windjammers 2 (coming soon)
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
- WWE 2K Battleground (coming soon)
- Zombie Army 4: Dead War
Google Stadia Controller details
While there’s no Stadia console per se, there is an official Stadia controller. At launch, the idea was that you’d access Stadia like Netflix or YouTube, pick up the controller and start playing. The key is that the Stadia controller connects directly to the Stadia service via WiFi and not via the device you’re playing on, allowing for a more seamless transition between devices and, crucially, reduced input lag.
The controller itself looks like a cross between the Xbox One and DualShock 4 gamepad, with the usual gamut of controller functions (including USB-C charging), plus two new features; a share button that allows you to capture stills, 30-second clips and will eventually let you stream gameplay, alongside a voice command button that will eventually let you interact with the Google Assistant. The latter will allow you to say things like “I want to play Destiny 2 with Alan and Luna” to set up a squad with specified players.
You'll find a 3.5mm headphone port on the controller, as is standard with Xbox One and PS4 controllers, although there's a caveat; you can't use Bluetooth headphones with Stadia and/or the controller - for the time being, anyway.
In a Reddit AMA, Stadia Product Director, Andrey Doronichev revealed that those who want to listen to game audio in private have no choice but to use wired headphones. The controller's product page does state that it'll offer Bluetooth support at some point, but that's a pretty open-ended promise.
The good news is that the Stadia controller isn’t a requirement for most devices; you’re able to use any USB-enabled controller (Xbox One, DualShock 4, etc.) alongside a keyboard and mouse, to play Google Stadia games on PC or a laptop, and you can use third-party controllers with mobile devices. The only time the Stadia controller is required is when accessing Stadia via Chromecast on a TV.
As of May 2020 (in the case of PC/laptops) and June 2020 (in the case of Android phones), users no longer have to play with an official Stadia controller wired directly into their device. Wireless support is now fully implemented, provided your controller and your PC/laptop/phone are on the same WiFi network.
On-screen controls are (from June 2020) available on smartphones too, just launch a game from the Stadia app on the Android phone you want to play on without a controller paired/connected and tap the 'try touch gamepad' option when it appears. Google says these work across "every game on Stadia" but how easy they are to actually use in those games very much depends on what you're playing.
Google Stadia specs
Google has confirmed the following specifications for Stadia:
- CPU: Custom 2.7GHz hyper-threaded x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5MB L2+L3 cache
- GPU: Custom AMD GPU with HBM2 memory and 56 compute units, capable of 10.7 teraflops
- RAM: 16GB of RAM with up to 484GB/s of performance
- SSD cloud storage
- Minimum 10 Mbps download / 1 Mbps upload
- 35 Mbps download for 'optimal' 4K streaming
As of June 2020, streaming resolution can be set on a device-by-device basis - from within the Stadia app on mobile or the Stadia Settings menu on both Chromecast (including toggling HDR on or off) and within the Chrome browser.
Privacy settings, including whether other players can find you on Stadia using your email address, have also been bolstered.