GOOGLE’S upcoming Stadia game-streaming service could kill the Xbox and PS4 – but is your internet good enough to use it?
You’ll need speedy WiFi to play high-quality games on Google Stadia, so we reveal how to check it your internet is up to scratch.
2 Google Stadia is a game-streaming service that lets you play without a consoleCredit: Reuters
What is Google Stadia?
First revealed on March 19, Google Stadia promises games at quality as good or better than a top-notch current-generation console – without paying top dollar for hardware.
It does this by running the games themselves on computers that sit in Google’s data centres around the world, and then streaming the video output to your screen.
Those computers are more powerful, by at least one measure, than a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined.
To access them you’ll need to shell out £119 up front and pay £8.99-a-month for continued access to the service when it releases this November.
2 All you need to play is an app or web browser and the Google Stadia game controllerCredit: AP:Associated Press
What internet speed do you need for Google Stadia?
You’ll need a 10Mbps Broadband connection to play them in 720p HD quality with stereo sound, or 35Mbps if you want to play them in 4K with 5.1 surround sound.
Most decent internet providers in the UK offer speeds at this level relatively cheaply.
And it’s even possible to hit these speeds (and far higher) using mobile internet with 4G, if you’re in the right area – though that might run into problems with latency.
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 Google, 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
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 good enough to play using Google Stadia.
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Does it have any competition?
Microsoft’s Project xCloud works on very similar principles but using a version of the Xbox One in data centre racks, while Amazon is also reported to be working on something very similar.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft between them provide the lion’s share of cloud computing resources across the world — anyone, including Sony or Nintendo, looking to offer a competing service at the moment would realistically have to piggyback on their services.
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