The Google Cloud Gaming Platform is available in 14 countries, including the UK and the US, in paid and free forms.
Called stadiums, these are Netflix's "games" — sorts — with games hosted on remote servers and they are streamed to connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs.
But what kind of stadiums to offer? And how is it different from other cloud gaming services?
Like Google stadiums building
Google Stadiums is a cloud gaming service through which games can be purchased and played but do not have to be downloaded to a console or PC.
This is because through multiple connected devices, including phones, laptops and TVs, you are playing the game in real time, but it is actually being run on a remote stadium server somewhere else in the world. Video of the gameplay is transmitted to the device via the Internet, while control codes from the game controller are transmitted in the other direction.
The biggest hurdle other similar services have encountered over the years is latency - the time that elapses from the moment you move the joystick controller or press a button to the on-screen action.
But where Stadiums differs from other platforms such as the NVIDIA GeForce series now and the PlayStation now is that its servers are located in a huge number of locations around the world. Which reduces the distance between the player and the server per stream.
In addition, Google has developed a dedicated stadium controller that connects directly to the internet via Wi-Fi rather than your device (if you play at home, at least). This means it sends controller codes without having to present them to the phone, tablet, or other connected device first. Which reduces milliseconds of latency in the game, which is really important.
Typically, on a gaming platform in the cloud, once you've pressed a button, a signal must be transmitted (most often via Bluetooth) to a receiving device and then sent over an internet connection. This is subsequently read from the source device, sent back to the receiving device, then transmitted to your TV (if not via your smartphone or tablet). Each of these actions takes time and can be vital to a smooth gaming experience, as MCs can be the difference between avoiding a bullet or being shot in the face.
The only key in latency wise works is that when playing on mobile devices such as a pixel phone, you need to connect your gamepad via bluetooth if you want to use it wirelessly and stadiums will use their mobile data to play. In addition, you can connect it with a cable, which will reduce additional delays. Indeed, this is the only option available only "at the beginning of 2020" when mobile communications will be included.
Google stadiums compatible devices
Google Stadiums does not need a special device, save for the controller as it is played through existing connected devices.
To connect to a computer, stadiums works through the Google Chrome Internet browser. Therefore, it is available on PC and Mac without additional special software or devices.
It will also work across other connected devices including TVs, additional Android phones and tablets, plus iPhones and iPads. However, at launch, you can only play on your TV using Chromecast and Ultra.
And, while there are several apps for Android and iOS available now, the vast majority of phones can only manage their stadium score and not play games.
Currently, only Google's own smart phones Pixel and select devices from Samsung, Asus and Razer can not play games through the stadiums mobile application.
Does your phone support Google stadiums?
- ASUS Phone Rig
- asus rig phone second
- Google Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel 3
- Google Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3A
- Google Pixel 3A XL
- Google Pixel 4
- Phone Reiser
- Phone Razer 2
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Samsung Galaxy S8+
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Samsung Galaxy S9+
- Samsung Galaxy S10
- Samsung Galaxy S10E
- Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
As well as a dedicated stadium controller, compatible phone users can link the Xbox One or DualShock 4 controller to their devices via Bluetooth to play game stages.
How much does Google cost stadiums?
There are two levels of membership: Stadiums Pro, which is a paid plan, and Regular Stadiums, a free access plan.
Stadiums pro membership costs £8.99 per month in the UK, $9.99 per month in the US. Which gives users up to 4K and HDR gameplay and 5.1 surround sound. However, you will still have to buy most of the top games.
Because while Stadiums Pro membership allows users to add a couple of free games a month to their libraries - a bit like PlayStation Plus and Ether - it's not an all-you-can-eat service.
A stadiums premier edition package is available as a kind of starter pack. Priced at £119 ($129) it includes a clearly White Stadium Controller, an ultra capable of streaming 4K and HDR gameplay to your TV, and three months of Stadium Pro.
During the current global crisis, however, Stadiums Pro membership is completely free for two months. Both new subscribers and existing members will receive full Stadiums Pro memberships at no cost. It will return to £8.98/$9.99 after two months, but you can opt out easily sooner.
The other plan was originally known as the base stadiums, but is now just the old stadiums. It's a pay as you go plan - you have to buy games individually like with the pros rather than getting free including monthly games. Standard stadiums are also limited to 1080p and stereo sound. The advantage, however, is that you don't have to pay a monthly subscription fee.
You can return to free membership stages after the free trial of Stadiums Pro is over.
Both membership options, purchased games are permanently linked to your stadium account and you can play as often as you like.
Pricing for new games is determined by developers and publishers. They are about the same price as console titles.
Individual stadium controllers are available in only black, bright white and wasabi color combinations at £59 ($69) each.
List of games on Google stadiums
The stadium game list is constantly expanding (after a rather poor start), with around 120 games scheduled to launch before the end of 2020.
Here is the confirmed list of games so far:
Existing game stadiums (as of April 17, 2020):
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
- Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
- Borderland 3
- The Darksiders Genesis
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- Doom Eternal
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse Lets You Rediscover 2
- Farming Simulator 19
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Special Squad Ghost: Halt
- Just Dance 2020
- Lost Worlds: per page *
- Exodus Metro
- Energy Monster Supercross - Official Video Game 3
- Mortal Kombat 11
- 2K20 NBA
- Rage 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Samurai Shodown
- Serious Sam Collections
- Shadows of the tombs
- Stacks on stacks (on risers) *
- Called SteamWorld Dig
- Called SteamWorld Dig 2
- Be called SteamWorld Heist
- Called SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
- Crew 2
- Tom Clancy's ghost recon breakpoint
- Tom Clancy Division 2
- Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
- Tests by Growth
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Upcoming game stage (for 2020 and beyond)
- Baldur Gate III
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Destroy All Humans!
- get ready
- Gods And Monsters
- Marvel Avengers
- Monster Jam Steel Titans
- Orcs Must Die! 3
- Panzer Dragoon: Remake
- Power Rangers: Battle behind bars
- Reserves of Crimea
- Elder Scrolls Online
- Turing test
- Watch Dogs Legion
- Windjammers 2
The stadium team has announced that it will be developing its first batch of games, but we don't expect to see any of them before the end of 2020 at least.
* These games are exclusive to stadiums, at least initially.
What broadband speeds do you need to run Google Stadiums?
Google claims stadiums are capable of running games in 4K with HDR and at 60fps.
It is also capable of up to 5.1 surround sound via Chromecast and the Chrome browser. However, all video quality and audio quality will be determined by your broadband connection and require a stadiums subscription (stadiums, bases Max at 1080p).
For the best experience - 4K HDR shooting at 60fps and 5.1 audio - you really need the recommended 35Mbps. However, games will still run at the recommended, absolute minimum of 10Mbps. You will probably be limited to 720p and stereo, but should still get 60 fps.
You can test your speed with a special online test here.
Google is making the bold claim that sometime in the future, stadiums will be capable of streaming at up to 8K and 120fps. However, this is far and will require much more internet speed than many national averages.
Note: The stadium game resolution is determined by developers and publishers, not by Google. So, although you can be a member of the RGO and connect to an Ultra or compatible computer running the Chrome browser, the game cannot be output in 4K HDR technology. And while you might be able to get 4K HDR video on your end, you may find that a game like Destiny 2 is blocked from 1080p performance.
Where are stadiums available?
Stadia is available in the following countries: UK, USA, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
Google plans to expand the service to other countries and regions later in 2020.
You can read our full, in-depth stadium review here: Google Stadiums Comment: The cloud gaming platform we deserve.
Cloud gaming platform