GOOGLE Stadia promises to give you top-quality big-budget games on any device you like, killing consoles forever.
It’s launching this year, but it’ll cost you £119 to join the party – and £8.99 a month after that.
3 Google finally revealed their game-streaming product in March, but it had been rumoured for monthsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Subscribers will be able to play a bunch of older games for free, but if you want to play the latest blockbusters you’ll have to fork out for each one.
It’s not going to be a huge catalogue either, with 31 games planned for launch, according to the report.
One of the big selling points of Stadia was meant to be that it doesn’t require you to shell out on new hardware to play games on, because the games will all run on Google’s computers in their data centres.
The only thing you were meant to need was a relatively fast internet connection, with the Google Stadia controller and optional extra.
However, at launch the only way to play will be to buy a ‘Founders Pack’ which will include the Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months Stadia Pro subscription and “the full Destiny 2 experience”, for £119.
After that, continuing your Stadia Pro subscription so you can carry on playing your games will cost £8.99 a month.
It will also come with a three-month “buddy pass” that you can give to someone else to play with you.
You will then be able to play on your TV via the Chromecast Ultra, as well as on a PC or Tablet.
It will be playable using the Stadia app on phones — but that will only work on Pixel 3 and 3a phones at first.
Full games list so farGoogle has revealed the following games so far, with more promised.DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE 2
Devil May Cry 5DOOM EternalWolfenstein: YoungbloodDestiny 2Power Rangers: Battle For The GridBaldur’s Gate 3Metro ExodusThumperGRIDSAMURAI SHODOWNFootball Manager 2020Get PackedThe Elder Scrolls OnlineThe Crew 2The Division 2Assassin’s Creed OdysseyGhost Recon BreakpointTrials RisingNBA 2KBorderlands 3Farming Simulator 19Mortal Kombat 11Rage 2FINAL FANTASY XVGyltTomb Raider TrilogyDarksiders GenesisJust Dance 2020
3 The Stadia controller was meant to be the only specific hardware ‘recommended’ — and even that is only optionalCredit: Google
Video game streaming – how does it work?We explain it all…
When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
That’s why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you’ll do next
That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you’ll need to fork out for an expensive computer
Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
The idea is that a company like Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
Then it would send what’s effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it’s not the phone itself rendering the graphics
It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you’d need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
But game streaming hasn’t had any great successes thus far
Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
Subscribers will be able to play games in 4K at launch if their Internet connection is good enough, with 30Mbps download speeds recommended for top-quality gameplay.
Next year will also see the service opened up beyond paying subscribers, where gamers will just have to pay for games they want individually and not pay for access.
The free tier will be limited to HD-quality though, with a only a 10Mbps broadband connection needed for optimal performance.
Destiny 2 on Stadia will let you transfer your characters from other versions of the game, though transfer from the PS4 is still pending approval from Sony.
Founder’s Edition buyers will get the full game, all the expansion packs released so far – and the next one, plus all the extra content in the next annual pass.
Google’s wireless controller for Stadia connects directly to the computer in Google’s data centres without going via your PC or the game, theoretically making for a much shorter lag between you pressing a button and the corresponding action happening on screen.
Google Stadia lets you switch from and to any screen you like, even in the middle of a game
3 March’s demo showed games running on phones, tablets and a TV
Microsoft showed off its own streaming platform xCloud in a recent demo showing a top-tier console-exclusive racing game running on a mobile phone, but these sorts of services will only supplement consoles rather than replacing them.
It also compared streaming services like Stadia being to gaming what listening to Spotify on bad speakers is to music – an alternative that’s useful when you just want some tunes, but hardly a replacement for a decent hi-fi.
Details on the game-streaming service, that sees Google’s computers run games then stream the video to your TV screen, including price, games and availability are due be confirmed later on today in a pre-E3 briefing that will be streamed on YouTube.
Are we ready for game streaming?THE UK’s cities seem to be well-served for game streaming.Ofcom says 95 percent of the United Kingdom has access to ‘superfast’ broadband, defined as over 24Mbps.
This is lower than the 35 Mbps Google recommend for 4K streaming, though average speeds are higher than that.
Outside of major cities the average speed in the UK is still under 20Mbps, with high-speed connections in urban areas skewing the numbers.
Speed isn’t just about how fast you can download movies, but also about how fast the server your computer is talking to responds when you ask it to do something.
Called ‘latency’, this can be a problem for games – and while Google has released minimum speeds for Stadia, it hasn’t said how low your latency should be.
Even with a super-speedy connection, if the server is a long way away or the messages to it need to take a complicated route, that ‘travel time’ for your messages can have a serious impact on gaming.
It might not matter if your 30-minute movie download doesn’t start for a second after you ask for it – but when playing a game if the on-screen character doesn’t appear to respond immediately to you pressing a button on your controller the experience is ruined.
Average broadband speeds in both the US are below the minimum 10Mbps recommended by Google for Stadia for even 720p-HD-quality gaming, and significantly below the 4K-quality top-notch consoles provide.
More than a quarter of Americans outside major cities say that getting ANY high-speed Internet is a “major problem”, according to Pew Research.
How to check your internet speed
Doing a speed test is easy – simply head to the hugely popular SpeedTest website:
You can also download the app on both iOS and Android:
SpeedTest will give you a download speed read-out in Mbps (megabits per second).
So as long as you’re consistently hitting 25-30Mbps, your internet is probably good enough to play using Google Stadia.
Google hasn’t said how low your latency needs to be – but if it’s over 30ms that’s an indicator something might be awry.
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The E3 festivities kick off in Los Angeles on Saturday, with Microsoft’s briefing on Sunday expected to bring news of the Xbox 2 and their latest in cloud gaming technology.
Sony aren’t attending this year, however, so don’t hold your breath for PS5 updates.
Sun Gaming will be at the show, to stay tuned for more news as it breaks.
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Google reveals Stadia, that will let you play console-quality games on any device with a browser