What you need to know about Google’s gaming platform, Stadia

google stadia announcement

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is typically a place for developers and companies to gather and share best practices and ideas. It is also a place for developers looking for jobs in the gaming industry to connect with companies like Blizzard, Bungie, Naughty Dog, and a myriad of others. Another big part of GDC is the announcement of products and service for developers, like eye-tracking or facial emotion capture. However, #GoogleGDC2019 was trending on Twitter today, because Google broke the norm with Stadia.

There have been whispers and rumors of Google entering the gaming industry for several months now. Whether it was a new gaming console or service, it was unsure. Today, Google cleared up most confusion by announcing their intentions on diving head-first into gaming.

What is Stadia?

Stadia is a gaming platform that will stream games to almost any device; smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and even Chromecast ultras. All of these devices are fully functional with Google’s new gaming controller too. Streaming platforms have been around for several years now though. Many people may remember OnLive from years past, or even the more recently Shadow Cloud. So what makes Stadia so different. Unfortunately, I can only think of one feature that sticks out.

Cross-Platform Gaming

Google was very quick to state that Stadia will support cross-platform gaming, but then quickly changed topics. This is mainly because it’s a sensitive topic for most console gamers. Specifically, Google said the developers of games will have the option to enable cross-platform play. So before you jump out of your seat with joy, remember that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo still need to approve such festivities.

The fact that OnLive only relied on its own platform is definitely a part of why it is no longer around. People won’t continue with a service if no one else is subscribed. For example, Call of Duty on PC via Microsoft had such a small amount of users that they began to refund gamers who were unhappy about it. Majority of gamers bought Call of Duty on Steam instead.

It’s safe to say this could be the determining factor for many when it comes to getting Stadia. Not to mention the importance of platform-specific title support. If Stadia launches and games just aren’t there, it will absolutely cripple the platform. Let’s hope that Google plays its cards right and has a plethora of AAA games from launch.

stadia controllerHow Good Is It?

Stadia will primarily run games at a resolution of 1080p with 60fps. They claim that it will also stream games at 4K HDR at 60fps. Google also stated that their goal is to eventually provide 8K at 120fps. This all seems very ambitious, but how can they do it? They are using devices with 10.7 teraflops to ensure that games are not only displayed at a higher resolution but with incredible textures as well. All this while also launching the selected game in 5 seconds as well.

During the demonstrations, however, I did notice several objects in the distance that failed to render properly. Whether they were not textured quick enough or flashing on and off the screen, it was clear to see that Stadia is not quite 100% ready for the launch yet. I am glad to see that Google is focusing on bringing 4K HDR to Stadia because most console gamers have been upgrading their TVs to gain a better gaming experience with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

All these resolutions and frames make me think, what kind of internet connection do I need at home to get this kind of performance? The first thing Stadia will do when launched is run a speed test. Google requires a speed of 15Mbps, with a less than 5% data loss, and a latency below 40ms. That really doesn’t seem like much, but if you plan to play games like Rainbow Six: Siege or other games where connection speeds are important, than 15Mbps is a lot. I really do believe it will work for most gamers, but for people who are serious about gaming, Stadia is not the preferred choice.

Final Reaction

Google’s Stadia is exciting because of the potential, but isn’t “for everyone” like they claimed. I can think of a few demographics that this would interest:

  • No gaming PC
  • A constant traveler or spends lots of time away from home
  • Playing through a games campaign
  • YouTube Streamers
  • Casual gamers

If you take online games seriously, already have a sweet gaming rig, invested in another gaming ecosystem, hate lag, have a data cap on home WIFI, or just prefer buying games physically, then you can pass on all this excitement. Google promises more information by the end of summer.

There is still plenty to learn. There was no mention of subscriptions, pricing, or a launch date. I guess I will hold my reservations and criticisms to myself until I hear more come summertime.

Feel free to watch the full Google GDC 2019 Keynote and decide for yourself.

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About author

Nick Keogan
Nick Keogan 54 posts

I've reviewed gaming and tech for over 10 years now. I'm a family man based out of Utah. Grew up in the Greater Washington DC Area.