What Is Google Stadia? Everything You Need To Know

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What is Google Stadia and how does it relate to Android? In short, Stadia is Google's cloud gaming platform. As for its relation to Android, the Pixel 2, 3, and 4 are some of the Android devices you can play Stadia games on.

If you're looking to learn more about Stadia and what it offers, we've laid out everything here to answer all your questions.

When is Google Stadia available to play on Android devices?

Stadia was launched on November 19 officially. As of launch day, there was support for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, and the Pixel 4 and 4 XL.

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As of February 18 of 2020, Google announced that support would be expanding to more Android smartphones. This includes the ASUS ROG Phone and ROG Phone II, the Razer Phone and Razer Phone 2, and various devices from Samsung.

The Samsung devices include the Galaxy S8, S8+, and S8 Active, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, the Galaxy S10, S10e, and S10+, the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra, the Galaxy Note 8, the Galaxy Note 9, and the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+.

These devices officially gained support on February 20, which is when you will be able to use them to play games on Stadia. The app can be installed on those phones now though.

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At its OnePlus 8 event, OnePlus announced that its brand-new OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro would also come with support for Stadia. As will some of its older devices. Support for this went live sometime around April 23.

Besides Android, how else can you play games on Google Stadia?

You can play Stadia games on desktops or laptops with a Chrome browser. This means Chromebooks, and even Windows-based budget laptop and desktop computers.

Basically if it's a PC of some kind and it has a recent version of Chrome, you can play Stadia on it. Even on Mac.

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In addition to computers and phones, you can also play Stadia games on Chromecast Ultra. Simply plug the device into a TV or monitor with an HDMI port and you're good to go. After you complete the setup of course.

What are the requirements to play games on Google Stadia?

Now that the free Base tier of Stadia has officially launched, the requirements for Stadia are that you have a compatible device and the minimum speed for internet. You can still be a Pro member if you like, but it's no longer needed.

When it comes to controls, you can use the Stadia controller, DualShock 4, Xbox One gamepad, or similar Bluetooth controllers. Additionally you can also use a mouse and keyboard if you're playing on PC. If you're playing through Chromecast Ultra, you will need to use the Stadia controller.

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Then there's the network. According to Google, you will need at least 5Mbps down if you want to have 720p resolution at 60fps and stereo sound. Google recommends at least 10Mbps though.

Stadia Network Requirements
The various network requirements for Stadia & associated quality

Google also says that you will need at least 20Mbps if you want 1080p, 60fps, HDR video and 5.1 surround. If you want 4K, you'll need at least 30-35 Mbps.

Something to keep in mind is that experiences will vary. During the review period, many people had wildly different experiences with quality. Our review was based on a pretty decent experience, though visual quality was not 4K, even with over 200Mbps down. And there was a noticeable latency in some situations.

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Lastly, you will also need to be a Stadia Pro subscriber to play games at launch. Google plans to change this in the future when it launches Stadia Base, the service's free tier, which comes out sometime in 2020. If you're a Founder or have the Premier bundle, then Pro comes with that for three months automatically.

How many games does Google Stadia have available?

As of launch day, Stadia had 22 games available for users to play (though there are a lot more now). Two of those games could be played at no cost since they're part of being a Stadia Pro subscriber. Those included Destiny 2: The Collection, and Samurai Shodown (Samurai Shodown is no longer a Pro game for those who didn't claim it).

In addition to those two games, you have access to other big hits like Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, NBA 2K20, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Final Fantasy XV, and more.

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Stadia Launch Lineup
Stadia launch games for the year of 2019

Altogether there are now 73 games available on Stadia, including Darksiders Genesis, Borderlands 3, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint which launched December 17 and December 18 respectively.

Some of the more recent titles to join the Stadia roster were DOOM (2016), West Of Loathing, SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE, Rock Of Ages 3, PGA Tour 2K21, and the most recent – Spiritfarer from Thunder Lotus Games, which is the studio behind Jotun and Sundered.

There's also more games coming to the platform on September 1, including Hitman, Super Bomberman R Online, Hello Neighbor, and Gunpoint. All of which will be Pro games too, which means you can claim them for free if you like.

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Is there any first-party content?

Not yet, no. It will though in the future. Google announced that it created a first-party studio called Stadia Games & Entertainment, located in Montreal.

It also wants to have a studio in the UK as well as Japan. It will however probably be a while before any first-party content is released for the service. That being said, this week on July 15, Stadia Games & Entertainment announced partnerships with multiple big-name studios for first-party content.

This includes partnerships with Harmonix, the studio behind Rock Band, as well as Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games, and Uppercut Games. So far there's no word on what games the studios will be creating together. But this is likely the first hint at something that may be available for Stadia which is only available on Stadia. And not just as a timed exclusive, but for good.

Are there any free games?

Stadia will provide Pro subscribers with at least one free game per month, similar to PlayStation Plus.

As long as you subscribe to Stadia Pro, you will always be able to play those games. You do lose access though during anytime you aren't subscribed.

You will also miss out on any free titles that are given out during any months your subscription is inactive.

Does Google Stadia work with mobile data?

Yes. Initially, Stadia did not work with mobile data and could only be played when connected to Wi-Fi. The only workaround for this was to tether your devices to your mobile phone so it was essentially Wi-Fi.

That's no longer needed though. Earlier this year Stadia launched the Experiments feature in settings for the Stadia app. In it is an option for mobile data connections.

If you have this toggled on, you can play games on your smartphone using mobile data. Properly. That being said, it is available as an experiment. So that means Google has not launched the mobile data capability officially yet and it may not always function flawlessly.

Still, you can use it now. So experiment or not it is available which is a big step up.

What sorts of features does Google Stadia have?

Stadia in general has plenty of features that were advertised both that would be available on Android and other devices. Many of those features are not quite available, but they are coming.

As of launch, Stadia on Android will support gameplay with the controller and buying games through the store. A couple of other features have been introduced now as well. Like the capture feature.

You can already use this particular feature on the PC or on Chromecast Ultra, but not in phones just yet. Other features include things like Stream Connect, which is basically Stadia's version of split screen and launched alongside Ghost Recon Breakpoint on December 18 (it is also now available in The Division 2), Crowd Choice, State Share, and one of the more exciting ones, Crowd Play.

With Crowd Play, gamers can hop into a game with their favorite streamers. The way it works is it puts you in queue if there's a wait. Stadia will then tell you when it's your turn to jump in. You can then automatically pop into the game you were just watching.

State Share launched alongside Crayta back at the end of June. And Crowd Choice and Crowd Play will be launching a little bit later this year with games like Dead by Daylight and Super Bomberman R Online. Both of which are releasing this Fall. Dead by Daylight specifically is stated to launch in September.

Stadia also now supports things like wireless Stadia controller connections for mobile and for Chrome. So there's no longer a need to wire it with a USB.

What are the benefits of Google Stadia?

There's a pretty large list of benefits for this platform. For example, Stadia allows you to play games in the cloud, and because of this you don't need to buy a bunch of expensive hardware.

That means you don't need to spend hundreds on a console. Or upwards of a thousand or more for a really good gaming PC. You also don't have to deal with downloads for games.

When you buy a new game you can simply log onto Stadia, and hit the play button. That is literally it. You can jump into games super quick and never worry about downloading patches or updates.

One of the best benefits though is playing AAA, big budget game titles on your smartphone. You do need a Pixel device for this right now, but eventually that will expand. The point is that you can now take your game to a new screen.

Perhaps you're playing on the TV but then your better half wants to watch a show. No problem, simply pause the game and start where you left off on your Pixel device. Or in a Chrome browser. Stadia saves your game state too for around five to ten minutes, so you have time to grab a snack before you start playing again.

Another benefit is playing games at higher quality without the need for an expensive gaming rig. Now, this one is a little touch and go, as we didn't get any 4K for games during our review testing. At least not when we tried it through our Chromecast Ultra.

But Stadia does claim to offer it, and some users have reported really high-quality graphics. So, your mileage may vary with this one.

Are there any downsides to Google Stadia?

That all depends on what you perceive to be a downside. There are some.

The one that most people can agree on is latency. Not everyone will notice it, but even those that are experiencing it can agree that this is a major pain point if it pops up and it's bad enough.

In our review, we noted that there was noticeable lag in multiplayer gameplay during our sessions. Single player gameplay was great with no noticeable latency or input lag issues. Your best chance of avoiding this particular problem, is making sure you're playing on a device that's hardwired to your router.

Where can I buy Google Stadia?

Stadia is officially available in 14 different countries at the beginning of its launch from November 19.

This includes the US, UK, Germany, Finland and others. Though it would technically be possible to buy Stadia equipment and bring it to a country not on the list, the service wouldn't be supported there.

Stadia launch countries
The countries which currently have Stadia access

As for what storefronts you can make your purchases at, Stadia is only available through the Google Store right now. This means you have to order online and have the Premier Bundle or Stadia controller shipped to you.

Eventually, Google may end up selling Stadia bundles and controllers in other retail outlets. It hasn't mentioned any plans to do so however.

Is Google Stadia right for you?

There are plenty of factors to consider when asking this question to yourself.

If you hate large game downloads, patch or update downloads, or expensive hardware, then you should probably think about buying into it. There were some notable issues that might make this something you should wait on for a little while.

Your network plays a lot into this. If you don't have a very strong network, you may experience more lag and latency than others. Also worth considering is how you want to play. From your phone? As long as you have a Pixel, then it's a good buy. We noted in our review that playing on the phone was an excellent experience.

Then again, Stadia is only the right choice for you right now if you want to play some of the games that are available. If you're waiting on some specific titles, then you may want to wait. Then again, Stadia is now available in the free tier, so you could always check it out without paying the monthly fee for Pro.

Overall, Stadia is a great gaming option if it fits into your lifestyle. And there are many reasons why it can and should. Though some people had terrible experiences with the service initially after launch, it seems many more people are having positive ones. Especially now that it's been out a lot longer.