Google Stadia: Everything we know so far

Google's game streaming service debuts on November 19. Here are all the details

google stadia vs nvidia geforce now controller  3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google Stadia is a new game streaming service that promises more than any that has gone before it. If all goes to plan, it will render everything about the game in its global data centers on high-end PC components, before sending a cleverly compressed video of gameplay to the gamer via the Chrome browser. Google Stadia will arrive on November 19.

When is Google Stadia available?

The Stadia Founder’s Edition was first available for pre-order and has since sold out, and it will ship on November 19. Ordering the Founder’s Edition, which includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, a Buddy Pass, and three months of Stadia Pro, or the Premiere Edition, which doesn’t include the Buddy Pass, is the only way to play Stadia at its November 19. However, delays could stop you from actually getting access to the service for as much as two weeks after that date.

A wider release is coming later down the line, but Stadia Base won’t be available until 2020.

Is Google Stadia free?

Yes, Google Stadia will be available for free, albeit with only some of its features. The company will offer Google Stadia Base, a 1080p 60FPS service tier with stereo sound. Stadia Base players won’t have access to Stadia’s free game releases.

Want all the features? You must pay for Stadia Pro.

How much does Stadia Pro cost?

If you want 4K HDR image quality, 5.1 surround sound, or access to Stadia’s free game library, you’ll need to pay for Stadia Pro. That is currently listed at $10 per month, with no discount for long-term subscriptions currently offered.

How much is the Premiere Edition?

The Google Stadia Premiere Edition is listed for $130 and currently available for pre-order. It includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, three months of Stadia Pro, and Destiny 2: The Collection.

How much is a Stadia controller?

Google’s Stadia controllers are $70.

Remember, though, that a controller doesn’t give you access to Stadia on its own (yet). You must have pre-ordered the Founder’s Edition if you want to play in November.

Are Google Stadia games free?

No, except for games included with Stadia Pro. Destiny 2: The Collection is the only game currently included with Stadia Pro.

Destiny 2 Google Stadia launch cross saves Xbox One PS4 PC E3 2019

You’ll have to buy most games to play them on Stadia, just as you would with Steam or digital games on your game console. As reported by Eurogamer, the head of Stadia, Phil Harrison, told U.K. media that Stadia games will be the same price as games sold on consoles.

In other words, most new games will be $60, the same as PC and console.

Is Google Stadia a console?

Not in the traditional sense. You won’t have a box in your home that runs the game. Instead, games run on Google’s cloud servers, which beam the game to wherever you’re playing.

You can’t wave goodbye to hardware entirely, however. At launch, you’ll only be able to play Stadia on your television if you have a Chromecast Ultra or you connect a computer and play through the Chrome browser. A controller (or keyboard and mouse, if you’re on PC) is needed, though you don’t have to buy and use a Stadia controller specifically.

google chromecast ultra 2016
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Stadia’s initial launch also has limited mobile device support. Only the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 3a XL are officially supported at launch.

Theoretically, you can play Stadia through devices that run the Chrome web browser, like a Microsoft Surface Pro, or even some Android tablets — but it’s unclear how well that will work, if at all.

Will Google Stadia work on an iPhone?

Not at launch. iPhone support is planned, but no launch date has been set. In a Reddit AMA session, the Stadia development team revealed it doesn’t know when iOS will be supported.

What about the iPad?

See above.

Again, it’s theoretically possible Stadia will work through a Chrome browser on an iPad (or any other mobile device that runs Chrome). We don’t recommend you count on that, however, until Stadia has launched and players can verify that it both works and works well.

Will Stadia work on the Mac?

A Mac can run the full desktop version of Chrome, so it can handle Stadia without issue.

Will Google Stadia have Fortnite?

Not currently. Epic hasn’t announced plans to bring Fortnite to Stadia.

What games can you play?

The following games are confirmed for Stadia.

  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Doom Eternal
  • Doom
  • Rage 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Destiny 2
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • KINE
  • Get Packed
  • GRID
  • Windjammers 2
  • Metro Exodus
  • Thumper
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • Destroy All Humans!
  • Orcs Must Die 3*
  • Football Manager
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • Superhot
  • NBA 2K
  • Borderlands 3
  • GYLT*
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Just Dance
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • The Division 2
  • Trials Rising
  • The Crew 2
  • Watch Dogs Legion

Games followed with an asterisk are currently Stadia exclusives.

The following games will be available for Google Stadia on November 19.

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • Destiny 2: The Collection
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Football Manager 2020
  • GRID
  • GYLT*
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K20
  • Rage 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider
  • Trials Rising
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

The following games will not be available on launch day but will arrive in 2019.

  • Borderlands 3
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

How does Google Stadia work?

Stadia is a cloud gaming service. The games you play run on Google’s cloud servers, but you still see the game on your local screen and play with a gamepad (or keyboard and mouse). It’s a lot like a YouTube video, except it’s interactive.

This means you can play games on a wider range of devices. A phone can play Destiny 2, for example, because the phone’s hardware isn’t playing the game. It’s just streaming the video feed of the game running on a remote server.

Google Stadia no beta test before launch cloud gaming stream

However, it introduces possible latency and bandwidth issues. In our tests of Google Project Stream, the predecessor to Stadia, we found latency was low enough that it didn’t feel noticeable. Buffering was more of an issue. Image quality dropped at times, even on a connection that exceeded the recommended minimums.

Again, think of it like YouTube. You can watch YouTube videos at 4K or even 8K resolution. However, you’ll see video compression artifacts if bandwidth is restricted. Even an excellent connection can’t guarantee flawless performance.

How much bandwidth does Google Stadia need?

Stadia’s recommended minimum bandwidth is 10Mbps. That’s enough for 720p gameplay.

At 20 Mbps you can reasonably expect 1080p, 60FPS gameplay with HDR and 5.1 surround sound.

You’ll need around 35 Mbps to see 4K resolution with all the features above enabled.

Stadia’s quoted figures are minimums for each specific level of quality. You might see compression artifacts even if you meet them. The bandwidth must be stable. Your connection doesn’t need to hit 10Mbps on average. It needs to always stay above 10Mbps. If it doesn’t, you will see serious image quality issues.

Will Google Stadia work on my mobile data plan?

That depends on its speed. In theory, 4G LTE connections can handle the bandwidth Stadia requires, but reliability is an issue. Any dip in speeds will cause a drop in performance or a complete drop in connectivity.

5G holds promise for cloud gaming services like Stadia. Its bandwidth well exceeds what Stadia needs. However, 5G is currently available in only a few cities and on a select few smartphones.

How much data will Google Stadia use?

It’s not unusual to have a data cap even on a home internet connection, and high-resolution video can chew through those caps.

Some napkin math from ExtremeTech suggests that using Stadia on a 35Mbps connection, as recommended for 4K HDR gameplay, will eat through a one terabyte data cap in 65 hours. You’ll use a lot less if you game at 1080p, you might use even more if you’re on a very strong connection that can support a nearly flawless experience.

Digital Trends tested GeForce Now, a similar cloud gaming service, in 2018. A test run at 1080p resolution used 487MB over five minutes while connected to Wi-Fi. An Ethernet connection slightly upped that figure to 520MB over five minutes. That’s about six gigabytes per hour.

In any case, you can expect Stadia will be a bandwidth hog for the same reasons Netflix and YouTube can be bandwidth hogs. You won’t want to use Stadia if you have a data plan with a cap of just a few hundred gigabytes (or less) per month.

Should I buy Google Stadia?

Not yet.

Cloud gaming isn’t a new idea, but it’s still immature next to old-fashioned game consoles. No one knows how well Stadia will work when it launches in November. Will it have the games you want? Will games feel smooth and responsive? Can its image quality compete with a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X?

Additionally, some of its most unique features won’t be coming until 2020. These include State Share, which allows you to take the saved game of a streamer or personality and begin playing it on your own account. You will also not be able to use the Crowd Play feature, which lets viewers jump into a YouTube streamer’s game right from the video window and begin playing with them.

The answers to these questions remain unknown, but Digital Trends will be among the first to tackle them when Stadia arrives in November. We already have our Founder’s Edition on pre-order.

Editors' Recommendations