We often talk to you about game consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, or the Xbox Series X, or even more recently we presented you with the brand new PlayStation 5 from Sony. But did you know that the leader in the web search engines Google has also invested their time and effort to acquire a piece of the pie in the game console market? Google introduced not so long ago its very first compact console called Stadia, a technological innovation that will give a whole new meaning to the video game industry. However, Google Stadia is generally not well understood as a service. Dematerialized, cloud-gaming, on-demand offer ... Here is our Google Stadia file, with several questions and their answers. In other word, welcome to our Google Stadia games console review.
What is cloud gaming?
Today you slip a disc into your game console or download game files to your device, and ... there's also the Nintendo Switch with its cartridges. Depending on the components inside your device, your game will be more or less beautiful and smooth. With cloud gaming, that "game box" resides in a data center filled with servers, located miles from your location. You play games, such as when you watch a YouTube or Netflix video, as a series of compressed video images that are sent from the servers to your device. Unlike videos, games react to your input. Each time you press a button that allows your character to jump, that input is sent to a remote server, it is interpreted, and the server sends you a new image. Multiply by 30, 60, or 144 frames per second and you get a video.
What are the advantages of cloud gaming?
Now that you know how it works theoretically, here are the interests of cloud gaming:
- You can play on any screen: smartphone, tablet, TV, PC… and even an old laptop that doesn't play games normally;
- You get the power of a dedicated gaming machine, without having to set up or buy one;
- You don't have to do any maintenance;
- There is no wait for downloads (or almost) or game updates;
- Trying out a game is as easy and straightforward as starting a series on Netflix;
- Load times are generally shorter in games;
- The power is self-upgrading, you don't have to buy a new graphics card for more performance;
- You can subscribe to a one-month offer to try out a game you've been waiting for, then stop the subscription when you're done playing;
- Some games will benefit from new features enabled by cloud gaming (such as in a local network, imagine a virtual world with thousands of people connected in the same place);
- Most data centers are energy efficient, in other words: energy consumption is minimized for an identical service;
- The equipment used in data centers (CPU, GPU, storage, memory, cables, etc.) is optimized and often recycled at the end of its life.
- Obviously, these advantages differ depending on the characteristics of the offers, the data centers, and the platforms.
What is Google Stadia?
But is it the NetFlix of video games?
Not at all. As you will see later in this post, there is a very different feature in the design of offers, so the analogy has its limits. Netflix and Stadia are nonetheless similar in the way the games are delivered to you - not the game library you pay for. Sony's PlayStation Now game service is a bit more like Netflix, with a massive catalog of over 750 PS2, PS3, and PS4 games that you can stream for $ 9.99 per year. You pay for this subscription every month, and that's it.
How much do Stadia cost?
Google introduced two Stadia offers. The first is Stadia free plan. But, that doesn't mean you will be able to play for free. You have to buy your games like on Steam, on your PS4 or your Switch, and not anywhere: in the catalog offered by Google. The Stadia Pro offering does the same, with a catalog of a few games being supplemented every month with new games. The difference between the two offers is above all the quality of experience offered: Full HD definition with stereo sound on the basic offer versus 4K in 5.1 surround sound on the Pro offer. You don't necessarily need a Chromecast Ultra to play or the Stadia Controller, but Google does sell packs to make it easier for its first players to set up.
Please note: You can also get a special bundle, which is the Premiere Edition, that includes a Stadia gamepad, a Chromecast Ultra and a three-month Stadia Pro subscription. If you are interested in to the Pro edition, you will have to pay $9.99USD. You can also buy the gamepad separately for $69USD per month. If you prefer, you can purchase for only a one-time payment of 129USD, the Founder's Edition as well.
Since when Stadia is available and in which countries?
Google Stadia has been available to first-time buyers since November 19, 2019. In April 8, 2020, Google has also launched the Pro Edition to everyone by offering two months of subscription. Several countries are affected by Google Stadia, mainly in Western Europe and North America. Google can count on its many data centers, and it is an essential part of cloud gaming. In fact, to offer a good gaming experience, you should not be more than a few hundred kilometers from the data center where the servers are stored.
What we found in the game catalog for Stadia?
Before talking about games, let's talk more deeply about the different ways to play on Stadia, as you may know by now there are 3 of them available:
Stadia Pro: You pay $9.99 USD per month with no commitment - at least two new free games are available every month, you benefit from promotions for games on sale and you can play all games up to 4K with 5.1 surround sound ;
The Stadia Free account: No subscription, you can play your previously purchased games and you can purchase Stadia games at full price. The maximum broadcast quality is Full HD (1080p) definition with stereo sound;
You sign up for additional subscriptions to get access to a variety of different games, Ubisoft has promised to offer its UPlay + service on Stadia, you will have to pay the extra service to access the games in Ubisoft's offering.
At launch, 22 games were available (10 have been added).
- Bungie: Destiny 2: The Collection (included in the Pro bundle)
- Drool: Thumper
- Gwen Frey: Kine
- Rockstar Games: Red Dead Redemption 2
- SNK: Samurai Shodown
- Square Enix: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
- Tequila Works: Gylt (Google Stadia exclusive)
- Ubisoft: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance 2020
- Warner Bros. : Mortal Kombat 11
Since launch, many more games have been added to the Stadia library.
Google announces that more than 120 games are already on their way in 2020 to land on Stadia. Of these 120 games, more than 10 will launch exclusively on Google Stadia before other platforms, in the first half of the year. Unfortunately, Google does not announce any titles, neither among the 10 exclusives nor among the 120 games. Google also formalized Baldur’s Gate 3 (Larian Studios), Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red) and Doom Eternal, Doom 2016, and The Elder Scrolls Online from the Bethesda studio. But we do not yet know the availability dates for these games.
What are the exclusives on Google Stadia?
At the moment, there is only one exclusive planned for the release of Stadia: Gylt. This is the new title from the creators of RiME. In this single-player adventure game, your goal is to help a little girl named Sally travel through a surprising and terrifying world in search of her missing cousin, Emily. Google nevertheless plans 10 exclusive game launches, before other gaming platforms. Including Get Packed, a co-op moving game reminiscent of Overcooked.
Overall, yes. The Pro offering includes several games, and many more will be included in the future ... but the vast majority of the catalog includes games that must be purchased individually. If you buy a game, you can play it with the Stadia Base offer(FREE), without a paid subscription, however the video quality is limited in Full HD and the sound in stereo. As mentioned above, you can combine Stadia with other subscriptions, such as Ubisoft Uplay +. At this point, you will have to pay your UPlay + subscription in addition.
You can use Stadia on laptops or PCs with a Chrome browser, whatever you choose Windows 10, Chrome OS or macOS this will work, but also you can use Stadia on Pixel smartphones as well as the Chromecast Ultra dongle which connects to the HDMI port located on the back of your TV. Since early 2020, more Android devices have been supported, including the Samsung Galaxy S20 for example. Google also announced that 4K is now available through the Chrome browser. New smartphones were also made compatible in February 2020 with a majority of Samsung devices as well as some gaming smartphones. In June 2020, Google Stadia finally opened up to more smartphones. While the list of "certified compatible" phones is still very short (mostly OnePlus smartphones), any device with access to the app can potentially launch the service.
What can I configure on Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is designed as a plug and play, like a physical game console. You don't need to set up anything more than a Google account, Google takes care of sending the best feed as possible depending on your device and connection. As you will see at launch, there are a few optimization options as well, but it's very limited compared to what you have on PC.
What connection do I need to play on Google Stadia?
Theoretically, a stable ADSL connection may be ok. Obviously, there is a minimum speed required. According to Google you will need a minimum of 10 Mbit / s to play in Full HD), but the most important is the stability and latency of the connection. You can also play over Wi-Fi, but you must also ensure that the connection environment is not degraded (unstable Wi-Fi, regular loss of data packets, high latency). I still recommend at least a VDSL and if possible fiber optics. For now, Google has limited the operation of Stadia to a fixed connection, but I imagine that it will be possible to play in 4G or 5G later in the future. Also pay attention to your data quotas, playing on Stadia should consume up to 20 GB per hour in 4K and 4.5 GB in 720 p.
What is the latency rate on Google Stadia?
As we explained above, latency is the issue in cloud gaming. Latency (or latency, transit delay, delay) is the delay in transmitting data from point A or point B. But when we talk about latency in cloud gaming, we are also talking about experience This latency can thus be optimized according to the technologies used. For example, Google uses its own technology to compress images and decompress them. Google has promised that open standards and compression codecs will make latency not a problem on Stadia. Google has also promised something even better: "negative latency." This term literally seems to translate to "a trip in time", this technology would reduce the latency in understanding what the players are going to do. It's probably some kind of predictive system that algorithmically guesses the player's button inputs (when streaming conditions deteriorate) and sends the footage faster. This is a technology that already exists, with applications that may be limited. Let's wait until we try Stadia to assess the effectiveness of such a mechanism.
What kind of performance in Google Stadia?
In terms of the streaming quality, Google promises 4K definition at 60 FPS HDR compatible with surround sound. The 8K definition is also expected to arrive, as Google claims. In addition, Stadia also allows its games to be broadcast live on YouTube in 4K at 60 FPS at the same time directly from the servers. In terms of the technical characteristics of Stadia's servers, Google announced that a new GPU had been designed in partnership with AMD providing 10.7 Teraflops of power. Google compares this figure to the 6 Teraflops of the Xbox One X. At the processor level, the servers are equipped with a hyperthreaded x86 chip clocked at 2.7 GHz. Finally, the servers are equipped with 16 GB of RAM with an L2 + L3 cache of 9.5 MB. With such power, we can estimate that Google Stadia is already taking a step towards the next generation consoles, like the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X. Google also aims to be "faster and more responsive" than these two platforms. In practice, it depends a lot on the games and the client you are using: Chromecast Ultra with good Wi-Fi can get 4K on some games, and Chrome can now run games in 4K definition. In fact, the first games did not live up to expectations. However, the problem would lie with the developers, and Farming Simulator 19 can benefit from maximum quality. It will be necessary to see on the next games if the developers will manage to tame this new platform as it should.
On Chrome, you can play with your keyboard and mouse. Google has also marketed a dedicated gamepad. This controller works with the Chromecast Ultra, as well as Android (Pixel only for the moment), PC, Mac, and Chromebook. For now, these are the only ways to play, but Google will also make the main controllers available for compatibility. Since June 2020, it is also possible to play touch on your smartphone thanks to a dedicated interface that simulates the buttons on the screen. The touch screen replaces the controller.
What new functionalities does Google promise in the future?
Google introduced earlier an ambitious vision for Stadia at the GDC in March 2019, but this vision will only be partially rolled out at launch. Later, for example, you can click on a YouTube video ad for a game and instantly start playing it, and Ghost Recon will offer split-screen multiplayer with friends. If you are a YouTuber, you will be able to broadcast your games and invite your fans to participate live. Few functions are currently available at launch, on the other hand, it is possible to take screenshots, but also to make small videos of a few seconds, like on most current platforms.
Google Stadia is truly an innovative platform for video games with cloud gaming technology. No matter what type of device you use, the fact remains that this new technology will be an attraction for many gamers around the world. So why don't you give it a try by visiting the official Google Stadia website?