Google Stadia is coming, and it’s either going to totally rewrite the gaming industry or, you know, not. Google revealed its ambitious new game streaming project with a press conference at GDC a few months ago, but today it gave us some of the most important information we’ve been waiting for: pricing, pre-order availability and a few more games than the two it actually announced back at GDC. Right now, there’s no real way to evaluate how successful it will be until it gets into the wild and people try it in a range of real-world situations, but for now we’ve got the basic info we need for launch. I will say, however, that the YouTube stream I was watching it on dropped into low quality and buffered a few times during the presentation, and that was theoretically running on the same datacenters that Stadia will be using. Let’s get into it:
Games: I may be missing a few from the lightning-quick montage at the end there, but Google seems to be lining up a pretty big library, even if it’s unclear what’s going to be available at launch at what will come later. Here’s what we saw:
- Baldur’s Gate 3
- Ghost Recon Breakpoint
- Get Packed
- The Division 2
- Destiny 2
- Rage 2
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- DOOM Eternal
- Mortal Kombat 11
- The Crew 2
- Just Dance
- Trials: Rising
- Final Fantasy XV
- Farming Simulator (I think)
Pricing: This is the key. Pricing here has been a big question mark, and Google revealed several tiers of how we’ll be able to access Stadia.
- Stadia Pro: This is meant to be the workhorse of the Stadia economy. For $9.99 a month you get access to an unspecified library of games that you can play at 4K, 60 frames per second with HDR. Not all games are included here, but you also get discounts on games for purchase and, for a limited time, complete access to Destiny 2, including the upcoming Shadowkeep expansion. This will be available at launch.
- Stadia Base: This won’t cost anything. It allows you to purchase games separately and play them in 1080p, and I assume there will be plenty of free to play games in the mix here as well. Stadia Base will be available at an unspecified time in 2020.
- Stadia Founder’s Edition: This is a temporary thing, clearly. It comes with a Chromecast Ultra that you can connect to your TV, a limited-edition controller, 3-months of Stadia Pro, a 3-month buddy pass for a friend and first dibs on your Stadia name, though it is a little unclear why this isn’t just your Google account.
Internet Speed: You’ll need connectivity to stream games, naturally. Google recommends 35 mbps for the highest-level, 4K experience. 20 will get you 1080p, and 10 will get you 720p.
Again, this is all incredibly difficult to judge at this early stage. Theoretically, game streaming could completely destroy consoles and pave the way for a gaming ecosystem where no player needs to process graphics on local hardware. On the other hand, I could have typed the same sentence 6 years ago. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong this time around–technology improves–but it does mean that we’re going to wait until this thing launches to render any sort of judgment.