Cloud streaming services are paving the way for the future of gaming, even if dedicated hardware won't be going away any time soon. With more companies creating their own cloud gaming platforms, the market's sure to be inundated soon. Microsoft and Google are two of the biggest players out there, but their services are worlds apart from one another.
Xbox Game Pass for Android vs. Stadia: What's the difference?
While Google created its own dedicated game streaming service with Stadia, Microsoft bundled its cloud streaming service into its Xbox ecosystem with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Cloud gaming is now just another vertical under what Game Pass Ultimate has to offer for its members. Leveraging Microsoft's know-how in gaming and consumer-friendly ideology, Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming bests Stadia in nearly every way.
|Xbox Game Pass for Android||Google Stadia|
|Price||$15/month||Free w/ Stadia Base or $10/month w/ Stadia Pro|
|Number of games||Over 150||Around 100|
|Pay for games||No||Yes|
|Compatible devices||Windows 10 PC, Android phones/tablets||Chrome browsers, Chromecast Ultra, Android phones/tablets|
|Access to new releases||Yes||Yes|
|Supported controllers||Xbox, PS4, third-party||Xbox, PS4, Stadia, third-party|
|Resolution||1080p||Up to 4K (Stadia Pro)|
|Special offers||First month $1||One-month free trial|
What these differences mean to you
Price and available regions
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate might be a bit more expensive than Stadia, but that's because it has a lot more to offer. For $15/month, you're getting cloud streaming, Xbox Live Gold, and on-demand access to a gaming catalog with hundreds of titles. What's even better is that if you're looking to get either an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S, you can get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. By proxy, you get its cloud streaming capabilities — through Xbox All Access, Microsoft's financing program for $35/month or $25/month depending on which console you purchase.
Google Stadia, by comparison, offers a free version and a paid Pro subscription for $10/month. With Stadia Pro, players get 4K, HDR, and 5.1 Surround Sound support along with a handful of free games every month and exclusive discounts.
Google Stadia having a free tier sounds enticing, but you should also know that on Stadia, you need to pay for the games you play. Games are not included in the subscription fee. With Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming on Android, every game that supports streaming in the service is free to play with your membership. There's no need to spend an extra $60 on top of your monthly payments.
As for regional availability, Xbox Game Pass is available in 22 countries. Stadia is only supported in 14.
Xbox Game Pass countries:
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
Google Stadia countries:
- United Kingdom
- United States
So long as your mobile device runs Android version 6.0 or greater and has Bluetooth version 4.0+, it will support Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming. You cannot stream Xbox Game Pass games to your TV, and Windows 10 PC streaming support is coming at a later date. Stadia's list is a bit more complicated than that, but it's mostly also available on newer devices.
Google Stadia compatible devices:
- TV with Chromecast Ultra
- PC with Chrome browser
- Pixel 2, 2XL, 3, 3XL, 3a, 3a XL, 4, 4XL
- Samsung S8, S8+, S8 Active, Note 8
- Samsung S9, S9+, Note 9
- Samsung S10, S10+, Note 10, Note 10+
- Samsung S20, S20+, S20 Ultra
- OnePlus 5, 6, 7, 7 Pro, 7 Pro 5G, 8, 8 Pro, Nord
- OnePlus 5T, 6T, 7T, 7T Pro, 7T Pro 5G
- Asus ROG Phone, ROG Phone II, ROG Phone III
- Razer Phone, Razer Phone II
Games library, EA Play, free games, and more
Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming for Android and Google Stadia both have growing libraries of games. Microsoft is currently offering over 150 games to stream. Stadia has roughly 100 currently, with more set to be added as they release. It's important to note that these are just the games available for streaming. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate has a library of several hundred games available to download on Xbox and PC, with Xbox Game Studios exclusives launching into the service the day they release.
Microsoft is currently offering over 150 games to stream.
Microsoft has also partnered with Electronic Arts to bring its EA Play catalog to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate users in the coming months. This means the newer Star Wars Battlefront releases, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, sports games, and more will all be available to play — though not necessarily stream.
With Xbox Live Gold as part of Game Pass Ultimate, you'll also get two free games every month to download onto your console. Stadia also offers a couple of free games every month. In both instances, you'll lose access to any free games you've redeemed if you lose your membership but will get them back once you resubscribe.
Crowd Play and State Share
On Stadia, State Share allows players to share a link with someone else that preserves the game at the exact moment the link was created. The person who is sent the link can then hop into the game at that specific moment.
Crowd Play is a streamer-friendly feature that lets users join into the games of their favorite YouTubers. While watching a YouTuber live stream a game, there should be a button you're able to press to queue into a line and play a match with them.
These features are not currently widely available on Google Stadia. State Share is limited to a select number of games at the moment, and Crowd Play is in its testing phase with a small number of testers on board.
Google Stadia is compatible with more controllers, but there's a big asterisk next to a lot of those because some controllers are only supported on via certain streaming methods. For example, a Bluetooth Xbox One controller can be used to play Stadia games on mobile and PC, but not on your television. So far, the only controller that works with Stadia across all devices is Google's own Stadia controller. Support for PC is limited to Xbox controllers, PS4 controllers, the Switch Pro controller, and mouse and keyboard. All but the mouse and keyboard and Switch Pro can be used with mobile devices.
Microsoft's approach is a lot simpler. Xbox One and PS4 controllers, along with officially branded third-party controllers, support Xbox Game Pass streaming.
For most people, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the smarter purchase as it offers more value for your money. Being a part of the Xbox ecosystem has a lot of benefits, especially given Microsoft's expertise in the area. Google Stadia is good and has a free tier for anyone not looking to spend money every month, but you'll still need to buy games outright to stream them through the service.
Streaming and more
Microsoft has so much to offer here
Xbox Game Pass streaming is available in more countries, has more games, and comes with more benefits than Google Stadia does. It's a bit more expensive if you're comparing it to Stadia Pro, but it's well worth the asking price.
Playing catch up
Stadia still has a long way to go
Stadia's free tier is a great way to get into streaming at a low cost, but you'll need to purchase the games no matter what. While Stadia Pro has some perks like free games and 4K streaming, it generally won't be worth it for most people.
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