Ahead of E3 next week, Google has given some more details on its game-streaming platform, Stadia, first announced back in March. We now know how much it'll cost, when it'll be out and which games will be available at launch.
Stadia is Google's answer to games consoles – minus the console. Rather than needing meaty hardware to meet the ever-increasing graphical demands of modern games, Stadia outsources that to Google's servers, streaming the game back to a Chrome browser tab. In effect, that means games can be played on virtually any device with a screen – PC, Mac, laptop, TV, phone – that's connected to the internet.
We already knew the basic concept, but Google has now answered more questions in a "Stadia Connect" presentation, the first of a video series about the platform that seems like it'll follow the format of Nintendo's Direct or Sony's State of Play presentations.
Stadia will be available in two tiers: Stadia Pro is a subscription service that lets players stream games in up to 4K HDR resolution, at 60 frames per second, with 5.1 surround sound. It'll cost US$9.99 per month, which includes access to a library of free games and discounts on others that you can buy.
The first free game is Destiny 2 – but that's a little cheeky on Google's part, since developer Bungie also announced today that the game will soon be free to play on all platforms.
The second tier is called Stadia Base. This option is free, but streaming quality caps out at 1080p resolution at 60 fps, with stereo sound. You'll also have to pay for games, and although Google didn't announce pricing for that, we'd assume they'd keep in line with prices on other stores like Steam.
The first list of Stadia launch games includes Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Metro Exodus, Baldur's Gate 3, Rage 2, the Tomb Raider trilogy, The Division 2, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, and Darksiders Genesis. Others will be added later, and Google says it's working on some exclusive titles as well.
Of course, while streaming spares your local hardware the effort of running the games, it will mean your internet connection needs to be up to scratch. That said, it doesn't seem to be as bad as we might have thought. Google says the minimum requirement is 10 Mbps, which would give a resolution of 720p. For 1080p the company recommends 20 Mbps, and a connection of 35 Mbps is apparently enough to stream the high-end 4K HDR content.
Google also announced the Stadia Founder's Edition. This pack includes a Night Blue Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra – which is apparently needed to stream games to a TV – three months of Stadia Pro, a giftable three-month "Buddy Pass" of Stadia Pro, and first dibs on usernames.
The Stadia Founder's Edition will be available November 14 for US$129.99, and it's the only way to get access to Stadia Pro at launch. Stadia Base will follow in 2020. The service will launch in 14 countries initially: the US, UK, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden, with others following in 2020.
Extra controllers are also available at launch in black, white or a pale green called Wasabi, for $69.99. Google says that other USB controllers will work too, if they're HID compliant.
Check out the Stadia Connect in the video below.
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