Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) vs. Google Stadia: Which should you buy?

XCloud
XCloud (Image credit: Android Central)

Xbox Game Pass (xCloud)

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Hero

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Microsoft brings the heat with Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming, delivering with it over 200 games and the benefits of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Enjoy hundreds of games on-demand and online multiplayer with Xbox Live Gold.

Xbox Game Pass (xCloud)

Microsoft cloud gaming

Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Live Gold and EA Play
Better value
Available in more regions
More games
More expensive
No 4K streaming

Google Stadia

Google Stadia Logo

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Google Stadia launched without a ton of features, and it's still playing catch up to what it promised users. But if you're looking for a way to play AAA games on the go, it'll suit you fine.

Google Stadia

No console? No problem.

Cheaper
4K streaming possible
Less value
Available in fewer countries
Fewer games
No Xbox Live Gold or EA Play benefits

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 Cloud Gaming 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. As a result, cloud gaming is now just another vertical under what Game Pass Ultimate offers 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.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Xbox Cloud GamingGoogle Stadia
Price$15/mo. w/ Game Pass UltimateFree w/ Stadia Base or $10/mo. w/ Stadia Pro
Number of gamesOver 200Around 100
Available regions2622
Pay for gamesNoYes
Compatible devicesWindows 10 PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Android phones/tablets, IOSChrome browsers, Chromecast Ultra, Android phones/tablets
Access to new releasesYesYes
Supported controllersXbox, PS4, third-partyXbox, PS4, Stadia, third-party
Resolution1080pUp to 4K (Stadia Pro)
Online multiplayerYesYes
State ShareNoYes
Crowd PlayNoYes
Free gamesYesYes
EA PlayYesNo
Special offersFirst month $1One-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 per 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 you don't need an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S to play these games. Many of them are available to download on PC and stream to your mobile device.

Google Stadia, by comparison, offers a free version and a paid Pro subscription for $10 per 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, 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.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Android Streaming Banner

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

As for regional availability, Xbox Cloud Gaming is available in 26 countries. Stadia is only supported in 22.

Xbox Cloud Gaming countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Google Stadia countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Compatible devices

Stadia Game Trailer And Announcements Android

Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

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. Windows 10 PC support is available, as well as Xbox One and Xbox series X/S consoles. Mac and IOS users can also access Game Pass through a web browser. However, you cannot stream Xbox Game Pass games to your TV, though that appears to be coming in a future update. Stadia's list is 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, 4a, 4a (5G), 5, 5a, 6, 6 Pro
  • Samsung S8, S8+, S8 Active, Note 8
  • Samsung S9, S9+, Note 9
  • Samsung S10, S10+, Note 10, Note 10+
  • Samsung S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S21, S21+, S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, S6, S7, S7+, A, A7
  • OnePlus 5, 6, 7, 7 Pro, 7 Pro 5G, 8, 8 Pro, Nord
  • OnePlus 5T, 6T, 7T, 7T Pro, 7T Pro 5G, 8T
  • Asus ROG Phone, ROG Phone II, ROG Phone III
  • Razer Phone, Razer Phone II
  • LG® V50 ThinQ™, V50S ThinQ, V60 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, G8 ThinQ, Wing

Games library, EA Play, free games, and more

Star Wars Squadrons Combat Cruiser

Source: Electronic Arts (Image credit: Source: Electronic Arts)

Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming and Google Stadia both have growing libraries of games. Microsoft is currently offering over 200 games to stream. Stadia has roughly 100 now, 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 200 games to stream.

Microsoft has also partnered with Electronic Arts to bring its EA Play catalog to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This means the newer Star Wars Battlefront releases, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, sports games, and more are available to play.

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

google stadia crowd share slide from GDC

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

State Share and Crowd Play are two features that Microsoft doesn't offer a comparable service for.

On Stadia, State Share allows players to share a link with someone else that preserves the game when 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 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.

Compatible controllers

An Xbox One controller

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

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 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. The 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.

Bottom line

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the smarter purchase for most people as it offers more value for your money. Being a part of the Xbox ecosystem has many 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.

Matt Shore
Freelance Writer

Matt has been gaming since he was young, and enjoys exploring obscure indie games in between the latest AAA releases. The train sequence from Uncharted 2 still blows his mind. Find him on twitter @mshore94.