Google will press play on its Stadia game streaming service this November where it will launch in 14 countries. A $10 / €10 per month Pro subscription will let you stream in 4K HDR. In 2020, a "free" tier will be added to the mix.
The two tiers of Google Stadia
Google's game streaming service, Stadia, will be a service that combines subscription with game purchases.
Before you can start competing against your buddies you must understand how the two tiers of Google Stadia work. This november, Google is launching a Stadia Pro subscription plan in 14 countries. In the US, it will cost $10 per month and in Europe it will typically cost €10 per month. The Pro subscription plan will include some games, with Destiny 2 being the only confirmed title so far. Additional games will be announced at the E3 conference next week and later this summer, the company said.
A Pro subscription plan will also let you stream games in up to 4K HDR and 5.1 surround sound. Additionally, Pro subscribers will get discounts on game purchases from the Stadia store that will sell games at roughly the same retail prices as PlayStation and Xbox.
In 2020, Google will add a "free" Stadia Base option to the mix. This will allow you to stream purchased game titles to those devices that are supported. However, game streaming will be limited to 1080p resolution and 60fps. This type of access can be compared to a Steam account - only with game streaming instead of game downloads.
Confused? You can also turn it on its head and think of it this way: Everyone can create a Stadia account (but not until 2020) and start purchasing games from the store. The Pro tier gives you access to more features and a handful of games. Check out the table at the end.
Limited device support at launch
At launch in November 2019, Stadia will be supported on Chromecast Ultra, a PC with a Chrome browser (HTML5 support required) and Pixel 3/3a.
Of course, this is far fewer devices than most had anticipated and it also underlines how Google continues to ignore its own Android TV platform. The company says that wider device support will follow later. Google is also emphasizing that apps will not be reserved to its own devices so Stadia on Apple TV / Smart TVs is entirely within the realm of possibility.
The 14 launch countries include the U.S., Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.
Google is recommending a minimum broadband speed of 10Mb/s to get started. This will give you 720p resolution, 60fps, and stereo. Starting from around 20 Mb/s you can move up to 1080p resolution and 5.1 surround. A 35 Mb/s connection is recommended for the best possible experience with 4K HDR.
When Google unveiled Stadia in March 2019, the company said that its ambition is to offer AAA titles on a set-up run entirely in its own data centers. This will make possible far more expansive game worlds with thousands of simultaneous players. Stadia will also be integrated with YouTube. However, not all of these features will be available at launch. The ambition to offer 8K120 streaming is also a long-term goal.
With Stadia, Google is entering a game market that will transition to its next phase over the coming years. Sony has already announced the first details about PlayStation 5, while Microsoft is expected to announce at least some details about the next-generation Xbox at E3 next week. Sony already operates a game streaming service, PlayStation Now, that will be taken to the "next level later this year ". Microsoft is planning to launch a game streaming service called xCloud. Apple is also gearing up to enter the arena with its Arcade download service.
For those who wish to try Stadia Google is offering a discounted $129 / €129 'Founder's Edition' bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia game controller, 3 months of Stadia Pro and a buddy pass for a friend. Extra game controllers can be purchased for $69 / €69. You can pre-order on Google's website here.