Stadia is a streaming platform for on-demand video games in the cloud. Presented by Google on the sidelines of the Game Developer Conference 2019, the service allows you to play AAA video games on all kinds of devices, such as a computer or a Chromecast.
To do this, the game is run on remote servers – the video stream is the only thing that is streamed back to the terminal chosen by the user, in addition to the data from the controller.
The service will be launched in November 2019 in 14 countries including France. Here’s everything you need to know about Stadia.
You had heard of Project Stream, a test that allows a handful of players to stream Assassin’s Creed directly into their Google Chrome web browser?
The giant of Mountain View has just unveiled its extension for the general public – Stadia. A name that evokes stadiums, those buildings that have been gathering crowds around games since antiquity.
And above all a service that, if it keeps its promises, risks completely reshuffling the cards of the video game industry – just that!
What is Stadia?
Stadia is a video game on demand platform that streams into the cloud (yes, we know, that’s a lot of words side by side).
It mainly serves two types of users. On the one hand, publishers and content creators can put their games on Stadia.
The latter have tools provided by Google, and can rely on the service to radically simplify their distribution and promotion channels (a link is enough to launch a game, so Stadia is de facto integrated into all social networks, in addition to being fully integrated with other Google services like YouTube).
In addition, with Stadia, publishers benefit from instances with unprecedented computing power. And can for example optimize their games for multi-GPU architectures for stunning graphics rendering.
On the other hand, there are the players: they can access a Stadia game via a simple link, regardless of the machine on which they consult it, as long as it has Google Chrome.
This recipient terminal does not need to be powerful: it only needs to be able to connect to the Internet and have sufficient bandwidth.
You can play an AAA game on a smartphone, tablet, computer, and even on television if it is equipped with a Chromecast Ultra under almost the same conditions.
The other big advantage for the user is that he can consume a game in a few seconds, without installation, update, or launch time. At least on paper.
Launch Date and Price of Stadia
Stadia has been available in France since November. Two options are available: the first, Stadia Base, is free of charge. The second, Stadia Pro, is available for €9.99 per month.
Stadia Base allows you to access the service, but you must pay as soon as you want to play. The price of the games varies according to, among other things, their release date.
The stream quality is limited to 1080p. The free offer will not be available in November, but a few months later, in the course of 2020. No games will be offered with this formula.
Stadia Pro allows, for €9.99 per month to enjoy access to up to 4K HDR 60 FPS and with 5.1 surround sound. The offer allows you to regularly enjoy free games like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold.
Destiny 2 will be available at launch. However, the rest of the catalogue is subject to a charge. This will be the only option available when the service is launched in France in November.
In addition to these offers, Google proposes to pre-book a Google Stadia Founder Edition package. It is available for 129 € and includes a Stadia Controller controller (limited edition Night Blue), a Chromecast Ultra and 3 months subscription.
If you choose this option, you will receive an email before the launch of Stadia so that you can choose and book your nickname before anyone else.
The Founder Edition package is already out of stock. It is replaced by a Premiere Edition pack available at the same price. It also entitles you to 3 months of free subscription.
If the delivery of the packs started on November 19, Google warns that not everyone will receive them as soon as they are launched.
In fact, some Founders Edition pre-orders have simply been cancelled for no reason. And that’s not the only bad news so far: Google is showing all the signs of a failed Stadia launch.
Everything may not yet be set in stone, especially on the side of free offers. For example, it is expected that a system will be offered to test Stadia’s games for free.
What games are available on Stadia?
Google Stadia offers 22 games at its launch, here they are:
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – 35 € instead of 69,99 € (offer Stadia pro)
- Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2-69.99 €\Destiny 2: The Collection (free via Stadia Pro)
Farming Simulator 2019-29,99 €
- Final Fantasy XV – 29,99€ instead of 39,99€ (offer Stadia pro)
- Football Manager 2020-54,99 €
- Grid 2019-69,99 €
- Gylt – 29,99 €
- Just Dance 2020-49.99 €
- Kine – 19,99 €
- Metro Exodus 20 € instead of 39,99 € (offer Stadia pro)
- Mortal Kombat 11-62,99 € instead of 89,99 € (offer Stadia pro)
- NBA 2K20 – 25 € instead of 49,99 € (offer Stadia pro)
- Rabies 2-59.99 €
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – 29,99 €
- Red Dead Redemption 2-59.99 €
- Samurai Shodown (free via Stadia Pro)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – 59,99 €
- Thumper – 19,99 €
- Tomb Raider : Definitive Edition – 10 € instead of 19.99 € (offer Stadia pro)
- Trials Rising – 24,99 €
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood – 29,99 €
Note that you will have to take out your wallet to play all these games – we have also specified the price of Stadia games.
Only those who pre-ordered the Founder’s Edition or First Edition will benefit from Destiny 2 for free. There will also be other limitations at launch.
For example, it will be impossible to use a Chromecast that you already own, and there will be no Stream Connect or Crowd Play – you can check the list of features that will be missing at Stadia launch here.
Fortunately, whether it’s for the list of games or features, it should evolve quickly. An additional 14 games should be available by the end of the year.
Stadia Pro subscribers should know that they still have access to the games they are purchased after cancelling their subscription, but not to those they have obtained for free.
They will be able to launch them again when they resume their subscription. It is not possible to recover free games offered before subscription that you missed.
In addition, it will not be possible to moderate the titles. But Google explains that such a feature could emerge in the future.
Which Controllers and Chromecast Are Compatible?
It is almost certain that you already have one or more Stadia-compatible devices. Indeed, according to Google, it is enough if your computer, smartphone or tablet can launch the Chrome browser.
In the end, the company announced its intention to offer support for other browsers. For televisions it is mandatory to use a Chromecast Ultra for the moment.
An update of the Chromecast Ultra is available to make them compatible with Stadia. Be careful, however, because these Chromecast Ultra tend to heat up.
In addition, it is mandatory to buy a wireless controller, the Stadia Controller. The Google Stadia controller is available alone, but does not allow access to the platform from the beginning.
To do this, you must purchase the Founder Edition, which includes the controller, a Chromecast Ultra and a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro.
The Stadia controller also has a USB-C port for wired play on PC, tablet or smartphone. According to a new video from Google, it will first be necessary to connect the Stadia Controller to play on PC and smartphone.
This controller, the Stadia Controller, is not specifically designed to be repaired because it is impossible to open it without destroying it.
At launch, the service will not be available on all smartphones, but via an application only available on 3/XL and 3a/XL pixels.
It will be possible to play a priori on macOS, Windows, or Linux. It is not known whether or not the restrictions on mobile devices apply to tablets.
“We are targeting more devices supported next year. I really want Stadia to be playable on all mobile devices, Android and iOS, at some point,” said Andrey Doronichev, product manager, during a question and answer session about Google Stadia on Reddit.
What is the minimum speed? Test your connection to find out!
Do you want to know if and under what conditions you can use Stadia?
Google knows that the speed and quality of your connection is very important to the user experience of the service. That’s why the company has put a connection test online:
To give you an idea, a connection around 10 MB/s allows you to access the service in 1080p. For 4K HDR 60 FPS it takes around 35 MB/s minimum.
An independent test also shows that Stadia consumes more than 7 GB per hour in Red Dead Redemption 2 in 1080p60.
And to avoid any latency problems, Google will use new predictive technologies, so the company is confident that its games will be more responsive than on any PC.
How Does The Service Work?
To operate, Stadia relies on Google’s expertise in high-traffic cloud computing. There is no need to dwell on the fact that Google is already a leader in many areas based on this skill,
in particular its search engine and YouTube. Google Cloud Platform is also the third largest infrastructure of its kind, behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
And if we talk about these cloud platforms, it is precisely because they already make instances available to Internet users in datacenters – what is very simple to do is also what Stadia consists of, even if the user will not be able,
in the latter case, to do anything other than play the games available under the conditions defined by Google. So when a user clicks on the Play button, Stadia launches an instance in Google data centers, with a number of CPU cores, RAM, storage and graphics processor(s).
The game is executed in this remote instance, and the video stream is streamed in the Google Chrome tab open on the game, on the player’s machine.
The commands from the controller are the only things – possibly with the audio stream from a microphone – that are sent back from the player’s terminal to the instance opened on Google’s servers.
What is An Instance?
The term instance has already been used several times in the previous paragraphs. Since we are talking about service in the cloud, and the technical data sheet available for a particular game, you may review this term many times.
So what is an instance? Normally, this word is mainly used by developers when they code with an object-oriented computer language.
The idea is that every time you launch a game, a dedicated space is created on remote servers with specific features, and possibly customized data such as game backups.
This is called instantiation, in other words the creation of an instance (to simplify, you can consider it a kind of virtual machine in a datacenter) from a predefined model.
Thus, by instantiation, it is possible to reserve on demand a quantity of resources in a datacenter – number of processors, quantity of RAM, GPU, etc… – necessary to perform a task (in the case of Stadia, a game).
Stadia’s technical data sheet is monstrous
The technical data sheet of each instance can be adapted to the needs of each game. Nevertheless, Google gave this standard configuration when presenting the service:
- AMD 10.7 Teraflops GPU with 56 computing units and HBM2 memory
- Adapted CPU x86 @2.7 GHz with hyperthreading, AVX 2 and 9.5 MB L2+L3 cache
- 16 GB RAM with transfer speeds of 484 GB/s
- According to Google, it will be possible to play in 4K HDR at 60 frames per second, But Stadia is already preparing to stream
- 8K games at more than 120 frames per second.
Anyway, with 10.7 Teraflops of computation available, just this instance of Stadia has more muscle than an Xbox One X (6 TFLOPS) and a PS4 Pro (4.2 TFLOPS) put together. However, there are concerns about Stadia’s ecological impact as the service grows.
How to register and play?
For the moment, as you will have understood, the service is not yet available. Nevertheless, Google demonstrated the service to us during the presentation. Playing Stadia is as simple as registering for the service and clicking on a link. The game starts in less than 5 seconds, with no loading time as is currently the case on PCs and consoles. The service is optimized for multi-player and cooperative gaming with incrustation of the flow from other players, picture-in-picture style, and the ability to communicate in video and voice. Note that on the issue of charging times, the PS5 could also hit hard thanks to the presence of an SSD.
What Are The Alternatives To Stadia?
Believe it or not, Stadia is not totally revolutionary. Shadow, for example, reminds us that he has been on the same wavelength for two years.
The service, already available in France, allows you to enjoy an ultra-powerful machine on remote servers and stream it.
With bandwidth limits lower than those offered by Google to make room for themselves in homes with an average Internet connection.
Unfortunately, for the time being, this is the only more or less equivalent solution. Although some will object that it is possible with a little hacking to create this kind of thing in a Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure instance. We should also mention Microsoft xCloud, announced a year ago, and whose first public tests will begin this year.