Stadia and VerizonSource: Android Central

The world of gaming is changing. Google has a new platform called Stadia. Rather than coming to market with another console or PC competitor, Stadia's a new service that allows you to play games across a growing number of devices using Google's powerful cloud-streaming technology.

Ready to learn more? Let's dive in.

You want this

Stadia Premiere Edition

All that you need to game on Stadia.

The Stadia Premiere Edition includes all that you need to get started. The bundle includes a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia Controller, and three free months of Stadia Pro for you and a friend.

Stadia is impressive, but its launch left much to be desired

Managing editor Russell Holly tries out StadiaSource: Android Central

We've been following the development of Stadia for a long time (since its beta-testing days when it was known as Project Stream) and at GDC 2019, we were able to go hands-on with Stadia for the first time.

While that experience was limited to just one game (Assassin's Creed Odyssey), we came away cautiously optimistic. Then, at Google I/O 2019, we were allowed to use the official Stadia Controller. Spoiler alert, it's really damn good.

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Google shipped the first Stadia Founder's Edition bundles out in November, and our own Russell Holly wrote our first Stadia review. To summarize his main points, Russell loved the Stadia controller and opined that the service itself worked like magic — not having to wait for games to download and update is an exciting proposition for the future for gaming. Unfortunately, the overall Stadia experience felt incomplete with missing features and lacking compatibility for non-Google devices. In short, Stadia still felt like beta software that wasn't quite ready for a full release.

Three months on, we've seen some Stadia steadily improve, with the Stadia team promising more games and features to be added throughout 2020.

What exactly is Stadia?

A presentation of the devices Stadia can run onSource: Android Central

Stadia is the name of Google's game streaming service. Similar to NVIDIA GeForce Now and Shadow, it's a platform that allows you to play video games on virtually any device thanks to streaming technology.

Rather than launching a new physical console that accesses Stadia, you'll just use it on the tech you already own. This includes phones, tablets, computers, etc. At its demo during GDC, Google showed Stadia working on a Pixelbook, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel Slate, and on a TV using a Chromecast Ultra.

Stadia is capable of streaming games in up to 4K quality and 60 frames per second (FPS). In the future, Google says that it'll allow for streaming in 8K at 120 FPS.

What games work with Stadia?

Stadia works with existing third-party games that you'd expect to find on any gaming console. Third-party developers that want to bring their games to Stadia can do so at stadia.dev. Here's a list of all the games that are confirmed for the platform as of January 29, 2020, with the bolded titles representing the games that are currently available on the service:

  • Anno 1800
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • Baldur's Gate 3
  • Borderlands 3
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Destiny 2
  • Destroy All Humans!
  • DOOM
  • DOOM Eternal
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Fary Cry 5
  • Far Cry New Dawn
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Football Manager 2020
  • For Honor
  • Get Packed
  • GRID
  • GYLT
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Marvel's Avengers
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K20
  • Orcs Must Die 3
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Steep
  • Superhot
  • The Crew 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • Tom Clancy's The Division 2
  • Trials Rising
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

This list will continue to grow as Google has stated that over 120 games will be added to the service in 2020. We'll continue to keep this list updated as more games are added throughout the year.

In addition to standalone titles, there are plans for Google Stadia to support select game subscription services. While there's no word if EA Access will ever make its way to the platform, Ubisoft's Uplay+ will be available. It costs $14.99/month and grants you access to over 100 titles — including new and upcoming games along with all DLC packs and other post-launch content.

Google has been rotating in free games for Stadia Pro subscribers (more on that below), which is similar to what Sony and Microsoft offer with PlayStation Plus and Xbox Games with Gold. Google offers a rotating selection of four free games that Stadia Pro subscribers can claim through the Stadia app. Beyond the free Stadia Pro games, if you really want to build up your library you'll need to purchase titles as you do right now for existing consoles.

Perhaps even more exciting, Google has launched its own first-party game development studio where it'll not only be creating new first-party games but also working with other studios to get Google's cloud technology into the hands of as many developers as possible.

The Stadia Controller offers the best gameplay experience

Stadia is designed to work with most game controllers, keyboards, and mice, but Google has also released a new Stadia-specific controller.

The controller has a pretty typical design, including two analog sticks, a directional pad, bumpers, etc. It's available in three colors (Clearly White, Just Black, and Wasabi) and features two buttons specific for Stadia — a Share and Google Assistant button.

The Share button is designed to allow users to instantly share gameplay straight to YouTube. Users can control if they want to keep the shared video private, only send it to certain friends, or have it be publicly viewable. When the stream is shared, it'll be available in up to 4K at 60 FPS.

As for the Google Assistant button, this works with the controller's built-in microphone and allows you to issue voice commands as you would with any other Assistant-enabled device. Unique to the Stadia controller, eventually you'll be able to use Assistant to access special in-game features.

Currently, the Stadia controller only works wirelessly when paired to a Chromecast Ultra. You'll need a wired connection to play on your Pixel phone or computer. Additional controllers can be purchased for $69 each, or as part of the Stadia Premiere Edition bundle.

A Stadia controller is not required to enjoy Stadia on your phone or via the web. You can use other controllers that you may already own, or your keyboard and mouse when playing from a Chrome browser on your computer. You can wirelessly connect any Bluetooth controller other than the Stadia controller to your Pixel your phone, and we've got a quick how-to for getting that set up with an Xbox One controller and the steps are virtually the same for any Bluetooth controller.

What you need to play Stadia on your TV, phone, or computer

Currently, gaming on Stadia is limited to a select number of Google devices, however Google has plans to expand the number of devices that support Stadia in the coming year.

To play Stadia on a TV

You will need a Google account (not compatible with G Suite or Google for Education accounts) and a Stadia Founder's or Premiere Edition that includes a Google Chromecast Ultra and the Stadia controller. You also need to download the Stadia app on your phone (available for Android and iOS) to pair the Stadia controller to the Chromecast Ultra and launch games to your TV.

If you were invited to Stadia with a friend's Stadia Buddy Pass, you still require your own Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller to play on your home TV.

To play Stadia on a phone

Stadia is currently only available on a select number of Pixel devices:

  • Pixel 2 and 2 XL
  • Pixel 3 and 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a and 3a XL
  • Pixel 4 and 4 XL

You also need a Google account (not compatible with G Suite or Google for Education accounts) with an active Stadia account (activated when purchasing a Founder's/Premiere Edition or through Buddy Pass invitation) and the Stadia app downloaded on your Pixel phone.

Using a Stadia controller requires a wired connection with a USB-C to USB-C cable, however you can also pair PlayStation DualShock 4 or Xbox One via Bluetooth, or use any other Android-compatible Bluetooth controller.

To play Stadia on a computer

You will need a Google account (not compatible with G Suite or Google for Education accounts) with an active Stadia account (activated when purchasing a Founder's/Premiere Edition or through Buddy Pass invitation). Log into your Google account in a Chrome browser and go to Stadia.com to launch the Stadia interface.

You will need a wired connection for the controller of your choice, or you can choose to game using your computer's mouse and keyboard. There are no hardware requirements for playing Stadia on a computer, as long as you can install the Chrome browser. We've been able to play on an iMac and budget Chromebooks with no issues.

Stadia will tie in seamlessly with YouTube

Stadia features tie-in capability with YouTubeSource: Android Central

Gameplay videos are huge on YouTube, and with Stadia, one of the main focuses is to make it easier than ever to capture and share your gaming moments.

On Stadia, Google is introducing a new feature called Crowd Play. If a YouTuber is livestreaming themselves playing a game, they can allow their audience to instantly jump in the game with them via Stadia by clicking a button on the video. Additionally, if you're watching a trailer for a game like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, there will be a button that allows you to instantly jump in the game and start playing in as little as five seconds.

Furthermore, if a player finds themselves stuck on a level or can't find a hidden collectible, they can use the Google Assistant to find a tutorial video and be on their way.

And, as mentioned above, the Stadia controller has a physical button dedicated to sharing your gameplay on YouTube.

Here's what kind of internet connection you'll need

The internet speeds that Google recommends for using StadiaSource: Google

Since Stadia is entirely internet-based, you obviously need a good connection in order to play. The better your speed, the better your experience will be.

At the bare minimum, Google recommends you have speeds of 10 Mbps. This will enable you to play in 720p at 60 FPS with stereo audio. At 20 Mbps, things are amped up to 1080p, HDR, and 5.1 surround sound.

Lastly, if you want the best possible Stadia gameplay and need that crispy 4K goodness, Google recommends having a connection of at least 35 Mbps. Currently, 4K streaming is only available when gaming on the Chromecast Ultra and requires a Stadia Pro subscription. For best results, you'll want a wired connection from your Chromecast Ultra to your router using the Ultra's ethernet adapter.

Google plans to roll out 4K support for Stadia gaming on the web via a Chrome browser in early 2020.

There are two versions of Stadia

Comparison of the two plans for StadiaSource: Google

Google's making Stadia available through two distinct plans — Stadia Pro and Stadia Base.

Stadia Pro will set you back $9.99/month and is the ultimate way to experience Google's gaming vision. You'll have access to up to 4K resolution, a 60 FPS frame rate, and 5.1 surround sound. You'll also get access to the rotating list of free games along with "exclusive discounts on select game purchases."

If you don't want another subscription to deal with, Stadia Base might be for you. The gameplay quality is downgraded, only supporting up to 1080p resolution and stereo sound, but you'll retain a frame rate up to 60 FPS. You'll also miss out on the free games and Stadia Pro discounts.

When and where will Stadia be available?

Phil Harrison, VP of Google, presents StadiaSource: Android Central

Since launch, Google Stadia has been available in 14 countries, with expansion into new markets expected in 2020. Here are the countries where Stadia is available:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

It's worth noting that while Stadia is available in Puerto Rico and Alaska, it is not available to residents of Hawaii or Guam, although this might change if and when Stadia expands into eastern Asia markets.

You can order the Premiere Edition now

The controller and Chromecast needed for StadiaSource: Google

For the best Stadia experience, you'll want to order yourself the Stadia Premiere Edition bundle.

The Stadia Premiere Edition costs $129, is available exclusively through the Google Store, and comes with the following:

  • Chromecast Ultra
  • Stadia Controller
  • Three months of Stadia Pro
  • Access to Destiny 2: The Collection and the other free games included with Stadia Pro subscriptions

You want this

Stadia Premiere Edition

All that you need to game on Stadia.

The Stadia Premiere Edition includes all that you need to get started. The bundle includes a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia Controller, and three free months of Stadia Pro for you and a friend.

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