Google Stadia: Everything you need to know
610 'Stadia' stories
March 2019 - April 2021
What is Google Stadia?
Stadia is a streaming service that leverages Google’s vast cloud infrastructure to deliver AAA and indie games alike over the web without needing specialized gaming hardware. This ambitious effort follows in the footsteps of the company’s other large platforms: Search, Chrome, and Android. Google hopes to bring this form of entertainment to the next billion gamers by removing various limitations that exist today.
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What do I need to play games on Stadia?
The only things you need to play Google Stadia are a good internet connection and a device to play it on.
The service requires at least a 10Mbps internet connection for 720p quality at 60FPS and Stereo sound. With at least 20Mbps, you can get 1080p with HDR video and 5.1 surround sound, while 35Mbps is needed for 4K resolution. With those high requirements in mind, Stadia can burn through 4.5GB to 20GB of data per hour of gaming, so be aware of any monthly bandwidth caps your internet provider may have in place.
As for supported devices, you can play games on Stadia from almost any relatively recent device that runs Android or iOS, a Windows or macOS device with Google Chrome, a Chromebook, or a Chromecast Ultra. On Android and iOS, you’ll probably want a controller like the official Stadia Controller, but many third-party controllers are also compatible. These apps also offer a touchscreen-based controller for less hardcore gameplay.
On the Chromecast Ultra, the only compatible controller is the official Stadia Controller, as it connects over Wi-Fi, though this controller is compatible with every other way to enjoy Stadia. Meanwhile, players on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook can play with nothing more than a keyboard and mouse.
How much does Stadia cost?
You can try Google Stadia entirely for free, thanks to fully free-to-play games like Destiny 2, Super Bomberman R Online, and Crayta. If you have a Google account, you can play these few free-to-play games with no other costs or monthly fees, allowing you to see if Stadia works well on your home internet.
To play other games, you’ll only need to pay the cost of the game itself and any DLCs you may want. Again, no monthly fees are required; once you buy a game, it’s yours to play forever. That said, to truly make the most of what Stadia has to offer, you may want to subscribe to Stadia Pro.
What is Stadia Pro?
Stadia Pro is an optional subscription, available for $10 per month, which offers enhanced features for your Stadia games like up to 4K resolution and 5.1 surround sound. Not every game offers 4K or surround sound, but for those that do, it’s limited to Stadia Pro players.
Additionally, Stadia Pro includes a variety of games you can claim for free, with more titles arriving each month. Just like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, each month’s Stadia Pro games are available to claim for a limited time and are yours to play so long as you have a Stadia Pro subscription.
Do games on Stadia have any special features?
There are a decent handful of games in the Stadia Store that include exclusive features, usually built to make livestreams feature Stadia more interesting. However, game developers need to intentionally add these features to their games.
- Stream Connect can embed other players’ streams into your own as a sort of picture-in-picture mode great for team coordination in games like The Division 2 and Orcs Must Die! 3.
- State Share creates web links to a specific place within a game and is used by Crayta to create links that let a player jump straight into a particular mini-game or lobby.
- Crowd Play adds a queue feature to YouTube Gaming, where viewers of a stream can request to join their favorite streamer for a game.
- Crowd Choice allows streamers to give their viewers direct control over certain aspects of the game through polls run via YouTube.
But how is Stadia really?
The experience you’ll have with Stadia will vary wildly depending on your home internet situation, ranging from “horribly unplayable” to “console quality.” If you run into issues with playing Stadia on your own connection, you can check out our guide to improving your home network. To get an idea of how it can be in the best-case scenario, you can read our in-depth one-year review of Google Stadia.
One of the first things we felt compelled to share about Google Stadia, in the first days after its launch, was that it just plain works. One year later, that feeling still rings fairly true; Stadia feels less like “game streaming” and more like “gaming.” It’s genuinely easy to forget that you’re streaming at all, particularly when playing on a TV with Chromecast Ultra, but Android and web are also surprisingly good.
You can read the latest news in the world of Google Stadia down below, and be sure to follow our “Stadia Changelog” series that collects each week’s big and small bits of news.