Google Stadia was recently unveiled by the confirmed at the Game Developers Conference 2019, held from March 18 to March 22 in San Francisco. The company’s announcement was arguably the main highlight of the entire conference, and it’s got the entire gaming industry and gaming community talking.
Google Stadia Round-up: Specs, Price, Games, Release Date, Streaming Performance, and More
Google’s not a company that doesn’t delve into any niche without knowing the intricacies that drive it. Sure, some of their projects – such as Google Glass – never really worked out, but for the most part, they’ve succeeded wherever they’ve buried their hand. Can the same be said with their move into the demanding gaming industry? We’ll have to learn what Google Stadia exactly is to find out.
What is Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is the tech giant’s foray into the world of gaming, only instead of released a tangible console that you can physically own, it is a streaming service that uses high-end cloud computing technology at the background to stream videogames to your system.
This system could be anything from PCs, smartphones, tablets, and more. Like with previous game streaming technologies offered by Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles, Google Stadia is designed to offer gaming experience irrespective of your setup, making your device little more than a glorified screen.
All the computing and processing is done via computers in the cloud. Google Stadia differs from other streaming systems because the company is using dedicated systems specifically designed for this streaming service. In a nutshell, Google Stadia is basically a new console and it does have very distinct, unique computing technology at work. It’s only that you’ll never be able to own the console – instead, Google will own the console for you, and you’ll just utilize its power to stream games on any device it is compatible with.
How Does it Work?
Google Stadia works by streaming computer games from within its catalog to any of your owned devices, provided you’ve “subscribed” to the gaming platform. The Stadia computing consoles in the background will carry out all the computing tasks, so all you’ll need is a good screen and an internet connection to play the games.
Of course, this will mean requiring more than just an average internet connection. Google recommends a connection of at least 25Mbps to run videogames at 1080p resolution and 60fps. Google’s main vision is to give people the opportunity to watch a trailer and immediate jump straight into the game without having to download, update, or install the game.
It will take no space on your device, will not take any major computer power from your device, but it will require a stable and reasonably fast connection. To ensure this platform is available for everyone and there is as little lag/latency as possible, Google will use its massive array of global data centers across the world to ensure that a server is always available within a player’s region.
At launch, Google plans to make videogames available at 4K resolutions running at 60fps. However, the company has plans to hit 8K resolution and 120fps in the future with this platform.
Requirements to Run Google Stadia
As stated earlier, all you’ll need to run Google Stadia is a device like a PC, a decent screen, and a good internet connection. At its core, running Google Stadia will be no different than running Netflix on any of your devices.
The primary limiting factor will be your location and internet speed. Google recommends 25Mbps for 1080p gaming, and we expect around 30-50Mbps for 4K streaming. Users, however, will likely have the option to reduce the resolution to 720p and take use of slower internet connections around the 5-10Mbps mark.
Google Stadia Specs
Google made sure everyone understand that they weren’t just running a bunch of extremely powerful consumer gaming consoles or PCs in tandem to make this possible. Instead, the company has designed an entirely separate console system that is responsible for pushing all those pixels to your screen.
The Stadia platform packs a lot of power, based on what Google has told us. It packs a 2.7GHz x86 hyper-threaded processor featuring 9.5MB L2+L3 cache, which is very likely a multicore processor with around 8-12 cores. Contrary to initial rumors and reports, it seems the processor has been designed by Intel for the Google Stadia. It will also feature 16GB RAM to process the videogames, but the memory will be shared across CPU and GPU.
Google has partnered with AMD to design custom GPUs for the Stadia system, which according to the company uses HBM2 memory, has 56 compute units, and impressive power of 10.7 teraflops. To give you perspective, the PS4’s GPU has 4.2 teraflops. The Xbox One X, which is the most powerful console on the market, has a power of 6 teraflops. Of course, this is still less than the amazingly powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, which has an output of 13.4 teraflops.
Now, of course, teraflops aren’t the only thing that makes a powerful GPU – there are a lot more aspects to consider as well, so we can’t know for sure what it is truly capable of. Based on those numbers, we can guesstimate the core clock to be around 1500MHz. Even though it may not match the power of the best PCs you can build (then again, no console can), it does show that there’s a serious bit of oomph here. Furthermore, Google has revealed that the resources will be dedicated to every player individually and not spread across multiple users, which is awesome.
Google Stadia Performance and Features
The two games that Google showed running on the Stadia platform were Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the 2016 Doom. It is confirmed that Doom Eternal will also be coming to the deice, supporting 4K resolution, HDR, and 60fps. Stadia will also support cross-platform multiplayer, so you’ll be playing against owners of PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox versions of any multiplatform videogame that releases for the Stadia.
Google has also designed a specialized gamepad for this platform, which doesn’t make sense considering there isn’t a console that you can buy. This gamepad seems to take inspiration from both the Xbox controller as well as the PS4 controller. The design and ergonomics are like an Xbox controller that has gone through a rigorous Atkin’s diet, but the layout of the analog sticks is what you’d find on a PS4 DualShock controller.
The controller does have a few tricks up its sleeves though. It has a dedicated capture button that instantly shares your gameplay on YouTube via a live stream, which would be useful for YouTube streamers and content creators. There’s also an additional button for Google Assistant that opens a built-in microphone for assistance and “special features” within games.
Now, none of that actually tells how the Stadia performs. Any PC gamer and/or competitive multiplayer gamer knows just how negatively latency can affect your gaming experience. Normal computer and console peripherals are so closely knit together with a combination of high-speed wireless and wired technology that we don’t feel it, but latency would be greatly increased when the input and output data has to travel across the internet to a location that is very likely far away from where you’re playing (streaming?) the game.
PC Gamer’s Jarred Walton had a chance to experience Google Stadia hands-on, playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Doom on the platform, and his consternation were not out of paranoia. As expected from a game streaming service – even one built by a company as reliable as Google – the latency particularly hampers the experience of faster paced titles precisely like Doom, throwing gamers accustomed to playing on powerful PCs off by a considerable degree.
This is one of the prime reasons game streaming services haven’t yet kicked off, despite their presence for several years. Still, companies like Sony, Microsoft, and now Google are investing countless R&D hours and millions in money into this medium of gaming, and it’s likely because they believe this is the natural evolution of gaming – or at least the very least a considerably viable parallel to conventional gaming methodologies.
Google Stadia Launch and Pricing
Google said the Stadia will launch in 2019, which means we’ll see it sometime this year. As for the pricing, there’s no indication of what kind of pricing system the firm has planned, let alone what exactly the prices will be.
Google could go any way they want with the pricing of the Stadia – they could demand an hourly, weekly, monthly, or even yearly subscription fee. They could demand extra for access to paid content such as DLCs for specific games, or give special access to all paid DLCs for all games that will have them within a set period.
Right now, all that is hearsay and speculation, and Google is keeping a lot of information close to their chest.