Game-streaming services are becoming ever more common, and with the sheer number of them being offered by a variety of companies, it can be difficult to determine which of them are worth getting. Perhaps the largest upcoming game-streaming service is Google Stadia, which promises to revolutionize how we choose and experience games. It will face competition, however, and Blade’s Shadow is one underdog service that has plenty to offer subscribers. When it comes to choosing between Google Stadia and Shadow, here is what you need to know before you make your decision.
Google Stadia and Shadow are targeting two completely different groups of customers, but they both support most of the platforms used for game streaming.
Blade’s Shadow isn’t designed for instant gaming in the same way as Stadia, as you’ll still need to download and update games on the remote PC you’re accessing. However, once this is done, you can play games on PC, Mac, televisions, phones, and tablets. For televisions, you’ll make use of a streaming box called the Shadow Ghost, and Blade says you can have the same game running on more than one screen at once with zero downtime. Apps are available on Windows, Mac, Android, Android TV, iOS, and Linux, with tvOS on the way.
Similar to GeForce Now, Shadow essentially allows you to turn your device of choice into a PC. The remote system currently in use has 12GB of DDR4 RAM and a GTX 1080 GPU, and it will be continuously upgraded so you will never have issues with system requirements again. Beginning in early 2020, there will be three separate plans to choose from, with the Boost plan most resembling a current Shadow setup:
- Boost plan: Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU with 3.4GHZ four-core CPU, 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- Ultra plan: Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU with 4GHZ four-core CPU, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage
- Infinite plan: Nvidia Titan RTX GPU with 4GHZ six-four CPU, 32GB RAM and 1TB storage
Shadow is not yet available everywhere, however. Currently, the service is available in 38 states, with certain parts of the Southeast and West unsupported.
Shadow also supports the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers, which you can also use on your television with the help of the Shadow Ghost accessory, as well as mouse-and-keyboard setups for more traditional PC gaming. Depending on the device you’re using, other Bluetooth-connected controllers could work as well, but we suggest searching the forum and support posts beforehand to see other users’ experiences before trying them.
Streaming resolution quality will vary across the two services. Depending on your internet speed and the resolution of the screens you own, you can potentially get a high-end experience on either service without having to own fancy hardware.
The quality of your resolution and game performance when using Shadow is determined by the hardware installed on your remote system. Shadow assigns one computer to each user and claims the quality is designed to not be affected if you are using a download speed of at least 15Mbps. Shadow offers support for a maximum 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. Shadow says this is possible through its “low connections mode,” which uses H.265 video stream encoding. Blade recommends either a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection or an Ethernet connection when using Shadow. You can also adjust the bandwidth allocation manually using the Shadow app.
Other games planned for Stadia around the service’s launch include Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Thumper, Mortal Kombat 11, The Division 2,
Google is also investing in original games that will be exclusive to Stadia. The process just began with the founding of Stadia Games and Entertainment, headed by former Electronic Arts and Ubisoft executive Jade Raymond. However, because the studio is in its infancy, this will likely play more of a factor in your purchase decision in a few years rather than right now.
Blade’s Shadow works similarly to Nvidia
Google Stadia’s standout features show how the company is trying to tie together game development, game playing, and game content creation. While streaming a game, a YouTube creator can enable a feature called “Crowd Play,” which lets viewers jump into the game directly from their video. There will also be support for save state sharing, allowing you to jump into a game with the exact same save data as the creator you were watching.
Shadow doesn’t feature any marketable exclusive features like this, but it does allow for you to stream simultaneously on more than one device, and its low connection speed requirements make it easier to play games at high settings. For the subscription price, you also don’t have to ever upgrade your system, but will still be able to experience high-end gaming. Because it’s designed for PC games but supports a variety of other devices, it also means you don’t have to own a PC at all but can still grab games on sale when they’re available. Only have a Mac but see a limited-time free game offer at an online store? Now you can snag it and still make the most of it.
Pricing and availability
Google will offer several different pricing models, depending on what you need to do in Stadia. The Founder’s Pack will be the only way to play Stadia during its initial launch period in November 2019.
Stadia Founder’s Edition, $129: Comes with three months of Stadia Pro, as well as limited-edition Night Blue controller, Chromecast Ultra, first dibs on a name, and three-month buddy pass. Available in November. The Premiere Edition includes everything but the buddy pass, first dibs on name, as well as a white controller for the same price.
Stadia Pro, $10 per month: 4K resolution with 60 frames per second and HDR, discounts on game purchases. Full Destiny 2 access. Free games available with subscription. Launches in 2019.
Stadia Base, free: 1080p resolution with 60 frames per second. Buy games you want, play in Chrome browser. It will launch in 2020.
Shadow is a little more expensive because you’re essentially renting access to a powerful PC. It’s available in most of the United States at the moment, and you can try it for $10 for 10 days before switching to a recurring plan. If you purchase a whole year, you will be charged $25 per month. If running on a monthly basis, Shadow will set you back $35 per month.
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