Monthly Data Caps Might Be A Barrier With Stadia For Some

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On the surface, Stadia looks to be a pretty cool service for gaming but monthly data caps could end up preventing some users from enjoying it fully.

Google tossed around a bunch of numbers and tech specs during its presentation yesterday, focusing on big ones like "4K," "HDR," and "5.1 surround sound," and while all that seems well and good, some users aren't going to be asking themselves the question of whether or not this will actually work for them.

Not because they won't have internet that's fast enough. That's not likely to be the big problem as Google reiterated on more than one occasion that you'll be able to use Stadia even with just a 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps internet speed if you're ok with 720p and 30 fps. Most people are likely to get those speeds. The big potential problem is likely to be users that are playing often and coming close to their data caps.

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Number breakdowns of the service use based on Google's own figures show that a Stadia subscriber playing their games in 4K at 60 fps, which requires an internet speed of at least 35 Mbps, would chew through about 1TB of data in just 65 hours, meaning that if the ONLY thing you did with your data every month was play games on Stadia then you'd be able to hit that in just a little under two weeks by playing five hours a day.

This is sure to vary as some people play more. Long gaming sessions on a weekend day off can start early and over the course of the day rack up 10 hours or more easily, which could shorten the amount of time it takes to get to that 1TB of data use.

More likely, though, Stadia is not going to be the only thing people are using their internet to stream. Stadia will be one of probably at least a few different services in the home that rely on the internet for streaming purposes, like Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW or any other number of options, and that's only streaming video.

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Taking this into account along with the fact that many internet service providers have a 1TB cap on the data use every month, many users will no doubt have to consider how much time they spend gaming through Google's new streaming service.

With consoles and PC gaming, streaming isn't an issue because the games themselves are all stored locally on devices, whether they were downloaded digitally or not. This is one big factor that may turn some or even many people away from Stadia.

Sure, your ISP will probably be ok with you hitting your data cap, as many of them will simply charge you more money for additional usage, but only up to a point before they start throttling you altogether, which would end up affecting your experience with Stadia.

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Perhaps Google has a plan in place for this sort of thing, and perhaps not. And data caps aren't necessarily a major issue for everyone, as plenty of potential subscribers that are interested in the service will simply limit their game time to fit within their internet plan so as to spread the use out across all the services that would need it.

Data caps are definitely something that users will need to consider though if they want to have the best possible gaming experience with Stadia, without reaching those caps and potentially getting charged more money by their ISP or getting throttled due to extremely high usage.