On November 19, Google launched its gaming subscription service, Google Stadia in a rather hush-hush event. In a blog post, Stadia’s Vice President and GM, Phil Harrison wrote, "Starting today, playing games on your TV in 4K without a console, streaming games to a Chrome browser on a simple laptop, or enjoying the biggest games ever made on your phone is a reality." Whether that’s true or not, here’s everything you need to know about Google Stadia.
What is Google Stadia?
Stadia is a cloud gaming service operated by Google. It removes the need to high-performance gaming systems to be able to play high-end games. Instead of having to download the game, Stadia moves the processing to the cloud, thus enabling anyone with a good internet connection to enjoy any game they want. The name "Stadia", plural of "stadium", is meant to reflect that it will be a collection of entertainment, which the viewer can choose to sit back and watch or take an active part in.
It’s said to be capable of streaming video games up to 4K resolution at 60 fps with support for high dynamic range. This is achieved via the company’s numerous data centres across the globe. To access Stadia, you need nothing but the Google Chrome web browser on your desktop. You can even use your smartphone, tablet, smart television, digital media player, or Chromecast.
Features of Google Stadia
As mentioned above, Google Stadia’s biggest selling point is that no additional computer hardware is required to stream games on your device. This is made possible by running Stadia on top of YouTube’s functionality in streaming media to the user. Google’s Phil Harrison sees game streaming as an extension of watching video game live streams.
With Stadia, you can stream games in HDR at 60 fps with 4K resolution, but the company is working towards reaching 120 fps at 8K resolution. While accessing these high-resolution streams, users don’t need to download any content to their personal device.
Another big feature Stadia brings is the ability for players to directly record or stream their game sessions directly onto Youtube. In fact, viewers of those streams can launch the games directly from the stream through the same save state that they were just watching.
For Stadia, Google has developed its own controller that will directly connect to the Google data centre in which the game is streaming to reduce input latency. However, users can use an HID-class USB controller as well.
The controller will have the Google Assistant built-in so that, at the touch of a button, players can search YouTube for relevant, helpful content related to the game they’re currently playing. Additionally, Google is exploring more ways to reduce latency, one of them is an idea called “negative latency” that involves predicting user input through various means.
Which Games Can I Play on Stadia?
In a press release right before the launch announcement, the Google Stadia team announced that Stadia will be launching with 22 games. Here’s what you can play as of now.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
Destiny 2: The Collection
Farming Simulator 2019
Final Fantasy XV
Football Manager 2020
Just Dance 2020
Mortal Kombat 11
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Red Dead Redemption 2
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider 2013
However, more than 22 games have been confirmed for the platform. So expect the following games to become available soon.
Baldur's Gate 3
Destroy All Humans!
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Far Cry 5
Far Cry New Dawn
Orcs Must Die 3
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
The Crew 2
The Elder Scrolls Online
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist
Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Watch Dogs: Legion
More games will obviously be added later on, so you can be happy knowing that your favourite casino games may come on here too. It’ll definitely be even more convenient playing scratch card games with hopefully even better scratch card odds.
We have seen other attempts at building game streaming platforms in the past like OnLive, PlayStation Now, and Gaikai. But Stadia has a much better chance of succeeding thanks to a large number of Google data centres across the globe.
It’ll be interesting to see the impact Stadia has on the big three, namely, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and the $140bn gaming industry as a whole. But the biggest winners, of course, will be the gaming fans.