Game streaming has been tried before, and it’s never been a smashing success. Google thinks now is the time to launch its own game streaming platform. It unveiled Stadia at GDC several months back, but it left out many key details. In a new live-streamed announcement, Google has revealed pricing, games, and the launch date for Stadia. The service won’t be cheap, especially if you want to use it when it launches later this year.
Stadia is in the same vein as Nvidia GeForce Now and the now-defunct OnLive. Rather than rendering a game locally, a Stadia instance in the cloud does the heavy lifting and streams video of the gameplay down to your device. Your control inputs go back up to the cloud to control the gameplay. Google is using a lot of custom hardware and video compression in hopes of making the process smoother than past attempts.
According to the new announcement, Google plans to charge a $10 monthly fee for access to Stadia Pro. That includes a few free games like Destiny 2 at launch, but subscribers have to buy all the other content. Stadia Pro streams at up to 4k resolution and 60 fps. In 2020, Google will launch Stadia Base, which has no monthly fee. This version of the service won’t include free games, but you can still purchase titles whenever you want. Streaming is capped at 1080p on the free tier.
Stadia will work on almost any internet-connected device including smartphones, PCs, Chromebooks, and TVs via the Chromecast Ultra. It will launch in 14 countries: the US, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
Google has a list of about 30 games that will be available on Stadia, including Doom Eternal, Get Packed, Thumper, Baldur’s Gate III, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Borderlands 3, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and more. Some games, like Get Packed, are exclusive to Stadia and make use of its custom multiplayer features.
Stadia launches on November 14th of this year, but there’s another wrinkle here. You won’t be able to use Stadia at launch unless you buy the Founder’s Edition bundle from the Google Store. That will run you $130 and includes a Stadia controller, Chromecast Ultra, Destiny 2: The Collection, and three months of Stadia Pro (plus a three-month subscription to gift). Everyone else will have to wait until the full service (with the free tier) launches in 2020. The Founder’s Edition pack also lets you get dibs on your preferred screen name.
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