Google Stadia

Google Stadia

Google showcased their foothold in the gaming industry today with Stadia. Stadia is Google's game-streaming service where everything is run entirely on the magic of Google, and beamed to any display you own that has an internet connection.

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Check out all of the technical details on Stadia details on Google's Stadia product page.

Watch the Stadia Connect presentation.

Five so years ago I wouldn't have understood Stadia. I was a card carrying member of the "I want my hardware and my hard copy" club. My life has changed significantly.

Now I'm all about the cloud services. I actively seek to make my entire life beamed from the cloud onto all of my devices. I demand the ability to pick up where I left off on any device. If an app on my phone isn't seamless with the app on my PC, I won't use it. Google has always been the leader for me there, with Apple and a few other companies right behind.

I'm also big on maximizing space and convenience. One less box to dust each week? Cool.

Conceptually, I like the premise of Stadia. Pick up my controller on my iPad or open the app on my computer and suddenly I'm playing without or hardware in 4k. 

stadia internet reqs

Previous streaming services haven't been so great. Even now, a lot of the "streaming" services I use have horrible quality. I'm a power user of Google's Chrome Remote Desktop. I practically can't live without it when I travel. The quality, even on the same network, is pretty sketch.

Now they're promising 4k and 60fps on a 35mbps connection? I have a "gigbit" connection, so when my ISP isn't completely ripping me off I get about 750mbps. 

You'll need one of these to play on a TV.

There are other barriers to entry. If you want to play on a TV, you'll need their Chromecast Ultra ($60). My TV already has all the apps, and so do my consoles, so I've never had the need -- I assume many of you are in the same situation.

You'll also need to have their special controller, which will run you $70. That's competitively priced right up there with the usual 'Pro' controllers. This one is special, though, because they alluded to some special connectivity between the controller and the game server.

Stadia Founders Pack

The only way you'll play with Stadia in 2019 is by pre-ordering one of the founder pack deals where they bundle the controller, Chromecast, and some extra crap for $129. The value is there on the Chromecast and controller alone.

The most pressing questions I have revolve around multiplayer. Singleplayer games are one thing, and despite needing an internet connection to play them with Stadia, it makes sense. But what about multiplayer? Which platform and I playing with? PC? Playstation? Xbox? Is it its own ecosystem and I can only play with Stadia users?

If Stadia were to really want to make an impact, imagine if they were finally the ones to break the barriers and be the only true way to play cross-platform. Stadia users playing with any platform they want... that would be amazing.

I have questions.

Summary of Questions

  • How will online multiplayer work? Can we play only with Stadia, or will Google break the cross-platform barriers?
  • How much are the games?
  • Can we expect the library of games to be comprehensive?
  • What about games that require an additional account to play, such as an MMO or Battlefield?

Pending answers to the above, I'm genuinely intrigued by Stadia. Enough so that I would consider being a customer. I probably wouldn't even need 4k -- I'm fine on 1080p for now -- so I don't need to pay a monthly subscription. This entire platform will live and die by the games it offers and how it brings players together instead of keeping them apart. 

I love the innovation, and I hope companies like Google continue to streamline our technology and how we utilize it wherever and however we please.

  • The games you’ll be running are PC games, Google is relying on Vulkan API’s to run these games on their custom Linux servers I’m pretty sure of, they could be using Windows but I reckon they want to escape the licensing fees so if they aren’t already running Linux they will for sure be pushing hard for it.
    The cross platform boundaries are not for Google to fix, there’s technically nothing stopping us from having cross platform gaming across PC, Xbox and Playstation already, it’s only down to politics among the different platforms where for instance Sony are making it very hard for anyone to do cross platform gaming on their system, no wonder because they’d rather have you buy a PS4 to play with your friends on a PS4 than allow you to use what you already have…

    • Makes sense about the PC and how they’ll do the set.

      I was hoping that since consoles are just PCs in branded boxes that Google would maybe be the first to bridge some kind of gap and give us the option of which platform we want to play with… but I think you’re right about it all being the PC market.

  • 60 FPS is already outdated by gaming standards today, so that being the peak of this service is a red flag. Even assuming ping and everything else is solid (it won’t be), playing online at 60 FPS vs PC players with faster displays will set you back. Its very noticeable in games like LoL and PUBG (I’d liken it to playing a FPS with a mouse on high sense, and then learning to play with the mouse set to 400. Once you play like that, going back feels crippling, and you notice when others are at that disadvantage).

    • 60fps is usually good enough for me, but I do like to see higher.

      The concept of playing vs others won’t be an issue if Stadia is online vs/with Stadia players only.

      Mayhaps they’ll blow us all away with their Google magic.

  • Some details:

    * The controller is not actually required. While it is a Wifi controller that would communicate directly to the servers, playing with an Xbox, PS4, Switch, or third-party controller is possible. You’d just need to pair it with the device you’re playing on.
    * Multiplayer is still a question mark, but they are making a big deal about pushing for cross-platform gameplay. Destiny 2 will feature full cross-save between all available platforms, including PS4, so hopefully Google’s commitment to this feature will help make full cross-platform games the norm.
    * Game pricing is being heavily implied to be standard retail price for all new games. I would expect Stadia to be pretty similar to Playstation and Xbox on this regard: the subscription gives you free games every month, discounts on other games, but for newer AAA games you’ll still be paying $60.
    * Additional accounts work the same way they do on consoles. I was in the Stadia/Project Stream beta, and I was able to connect my Uplay account the same way I would on any other platform.

    Like you, I am intrigued by the idea. I think platforms live and die by their catalog and that is the reason I still think Sony has the upper hand, specially if they improve their streaming offering to match Google’s.

    I don’t care about FPS limitations because the input lag from streaming would be a much bigger issue if one thinks that 60 FPS is not quick enough. Those living and dying for millisecond differences like these are simply not the target audience for streaming services, and that’s fine.

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