Google Stadia is a cloud video game service that offers AAA titles that can be played on just about any screen you own. Stadia offers free and premium subscription options, both of which have a growing number of titles to choose from.
What Is Google Stadia?
Stadia is a cloud gaming service developed and operated by Google. Rather than letting users pay for access to an entire library of games, Stadia requires users to purchase games to stream over the internet.
With a Google Stadia subscription, you can stream video games on just about any screen you own, including your Windows PC or Mac running Chrome and Android smartphone. And with Chromecast Ultra (and future Google TV devices), you can stream games on your TV at 4k definition.
So if you don’t currently own a console or a good gaming PC, or maybe you’re traveling and want to play on your phone or tablet, streaming games might be worth looking in to.
Cloud gaming, or streaming games without the need for physical copies, renders games on a remote server instead of your local device. That game is then streamed to your device while your input on a controller (or mouse and keyboard) is sent to the server, letting you play the game without the need of a console.
Google Stadia has an ever-expanding library, but depending on what games you’re interested in, you might want to check out the library to make sure your favorites are available. If Stadia doesn’t have the games you want, it may be worth looking into a different streaming service, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming or Amazon Luna, which offer different titles and discounts.
What’s Required to Run Google Stadia?
All you need is a Google Stadia account, a Wi-Fi/LTE data connection with at least 10Mbps downstream, the Google Stadia app from the Play Store, Google’s Chromecast Ultra dongle, Android phone or tablet, or the Chrome web browser on a laptop or desktop.
You’ll also need a controller. You can purchase the Stadia Controller (for $70), a mouse and keyboard, or a supported third-party controller. Microsoft’s Xbox controller and Sony’s DualShock PlayStation 4 controller work fine.
Due to Apple’s restrictions, the Google Stadia application on the App Store only allows the purchase of game titles. You can’t use the Stadia app to play games directly on an iPhone or iPad, but you can use the app to manage Stadia on other devices.
Online Gameplay and the Library
All available titles that can be accessed with a Google Stadia account can be found in its game library. These are all games available for purchase and those given to Google Stadia Pro subscribers for free.
As of November 2020, there are over 50 video games you can purchase, including popular titles like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Borderlands 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and more. Google also has a regularly-updated blog post for new games as they become available.
How Much Does Google Stadia Cost?
There have been a lot of changes to Google Stadia’s subscription plan since launched, but at the time of writing, Stadia has two subscriptions plans: a free membership and the Stadia Pro membership. You can think of the free Stadia plan as a free service, with select titles available the moment you sign up, plus the cost of video games. There aren’t a lot of free titles to choose from, and any game not included in the free title list must be purchased in full from the Stadia Store.
With the Stadia Pro membership, you pay $9.99 per month, and every month you can claim free games to add to your collection. With the Stadia Pro subscription, you can play games at 4K with HDR via your own Chromecast Ultra or Chrome web browser. The optional $70 Stadia Controller lets you listen and chat with your Bluetooth headphones (not just a wired 3.5mm set).
Both Google Stadia subscriptions have game achievements, the ability to instantly share gameplay captures to YouTube, and cross-platform voice chat.
You can also pick up the Google Stadia Premiere Edition if you’re absolutely positive you want to invest in the complete package. The bundle includes a Google Chromecast Ultra and a Google Stadia controller. The Google Stadia Premiere Edition costs $99.99, though you’ll still have to pay $9.99 a month for Stadia Pro.
If you’re interested in giving Google Stadia Pro a trial-run, there’s a one-month-trial available. You can cancel the subscription at any time.