Google Stadia is slowly becoming popular among gamers who are frequently out and about, alongside its tight competition — the Apple Arcade. But what is Google Stadia? Let’s just say that it’s an interesting gaming platform that prevents you from being glued on the large screens while still allowing you to make a progress. Fret not because we’ll break this down for people who are not very familiar with the platform.
In this article, we examine what Google Stadia really is, the Stadia games you can play, and the devices and controllers you can use it with. By the end of the article, you should know whether Google Stadia is for you or not.
Inside This Article
For the most important question, what is Stadia? Google Stadia is a cloud gaming platform that allows you to play video games on compatible devices you own — no downloads needed. Unlike the usual Android games where you need to download an app and store your progress on a particular device, Stadia does its job on cloud servers. Since you won’t have to individually download games, there are also no frequent updates to worry about.
It’s basically as if you are streaming. The game plays on the cloud and transmits it to you via the device you are currently on. All your progress is also saved on the cloud, so you can resume your games on virtually any device.
Google Stadia is unique from other cloud gaming services too, like Xbox Pass Ultimate and PS Remote Play. Both services require you to have a primary device — in this case, the consoles — where the games you want to play remotely should be installed. They may even require you to run the games on the console’s background to stream them somewhere else. But for Stadia, the Google data centers assume the role of the primary device for you, so you can avail of the service without necessarily owning a computer or a console. Just a compatible mobile phone will do.
Creating an account on Google Stadia is now practically free. Whereas you used to need to purchase Stadia Premiere — a bundle of Chromecast Ultra and Stadia Controller — signing up for Stadia Base today only requires no less than a Gmail address. After that, you may instantaneously play free games from the Stadia Store or purchase a title of your liking. Stadia Base also allows you to stream games at 1080p maximum resolution, which is a bummer if you are more into 4K. Thankfully, Stadia has an interesting offer that caters to this — the Stadia Pro.
The Stadia Pro costs $10 monthly, but the first month is on Google. Aside from the 4K streaming, the paid subscription comes with access to free games that are also available on Stadia Base. On top of that, an exclusive game is added on the Stadia Pro library every month that active subscribers can access. They can also purchase additional premium games at a discounted price, which they can play even after they cancel their Stadia Pro subscription.
Feeling excited to try Google Stadia? Hold your horses because there are still other things you need. Unless you tick them off the list, playing on Google Stadia would nearly be impossible.
As of writing, Google Stadia is only available in the US and parts of Europe. You can check the availability of Stadia on its website. If you find your country listed there, lucky for you because you can proceed to create your account.
If you are in another part of the world where Stadia hasn’t arrived yet, using a VPN application might save your day. Virtual private network or VPN clients have always been a staple for gaming, which allows access to geographically restricted content. Using it for Google Stadia should also work the same.
PC or Laptop Browser
Google Stadia works practically on any working computer with a Chrome browser. Since it works as if you are streaming Netflix on a browser, you won’t really need a high-end gaming laptop or computer. But of course, if you want to take full advantage of Stadia Pro’s perks like the 4K resolution and advanced audio quality, you might as well pair it with a decent PC.
TV via Chromecast Ultra
You can also play Google Stadia on a TV using Chromecast Ultra, but it should only be paired with the Stadia Controller. You can get Chromecast Ultra and Stadia Controller with the Stadia Premiere Edition bundle.
In terms of the Android platform, there are limited devices where you can play Google Stadia. As of writing, it is available for Pixel 2 and newer phones, Samsung Galaxy and Note phones (starting with series 8), Asus ROG phones, Razer Phones, as well as select OnePlus and LG phones. You can check the complete list of Stadia-supported phones on the Google Support page.
To start using your Android device, you should pair your mobile controller to your phone either wirelessly or using a wired connection. After that, go to the “Your games” tab, select “This Screen,” and launch the game you want to play.
We’ve repeatedly mentioned that Google Stadia works like streaming. That means you need an internet connection to download the feed from Google servers and send your actions to it in real-time. At the very least, Google Stadia requires 10 Mbps download speed for a decent gaming experience. However, if HDR or 4K is enabled in your account, you will need a more stable connection of at least 35 Mbps or greater. If you are playing using your mobile data, you should be using a 5G network.
Unlike video or music streaming where offline playback is available, you can’t play Google Stadia offline. This is because the platform does not work like a physical console where you can download a game and eventually play it. Stadia renders games from Google data centers and a high-speed connection is needed as you play.
If you are streaming on Chromecast TV, a Stadia Controller is the only way to go. But for other supported platforms, you will be able to use almost all mainstream gamepads and controllers. The compatible controllers when you are playing Stadia on computers and Android phones are as follows:
|Compatible Controllers||Connection Type||Compatibility||Next Step|
USB and Wi-Fi
Chromecast Ultra, Google Chrome, Android 10
USB and Bluetooth
Google Chrome, Android 10
USB and Bluetooth
Google Chrome, Android 10
Google Chrome, Android 10
|USB and Bluetooth||Google Chrome, Android 10|
|USB||Google Chrome, Android 10|
|USB and Bluetooth||Google Chrome|
However, you may also opt out of using a controller when playing Google Stadia on PC and mobile. For personal computers, you can use the mouse and keyboard. For mobile, you can utilize the touchpad preview when no controller is detected. However, we still recommend using a controller for ergonomics and easy controls.
Luckily, even those without a premium subscription would be able to immediately play — thanks to free Stadia Games. One of the most popular Stadia games that all users can play free of charge is Destiny 2. The free version of Destiny 2 allows cooperative play as the Guardians embark on space quests.
Stadia Pro users, however, still have more possibilities of exploring free games. That is because most of the free games on the platform require a premium subscription for you to claim them. Some of the popular games you may claim for free on Stadia Pro are PUBG, Gunsport, Crayta, and Everspace among others. However, do take note that Stadia Pro free games renew every month so you have to claim them immediately upon release. Once you have claimed a free game, it is yours to keep even after Google Stadia removes it from its roster of free-to-play games.
It is easy to identify games that you can play for free on Stadia because the claim button is available right away on their respective pages. To get your free games using the Stadia App, go to Store>Stadia Pro, then select the free game you want to add to your library. Similarly, you can purchase a game from the Stadia App’s Store Tab. From there, go to All Games> Title of the Game, then tap on Buy.
The straightforward answer to this is yes. Using Google Stadia, you may play with or against other players from different platforms like PC, consoles, and even mobile as long as the game would allow it. Stadia’s library of cross-platform games has grown relatively over the years.
However, using a cross-play feature on Stadia is not always fun because it might put you in an unfair position. Cloud gaming platforms, Stadia included, are notorious for high latency. This wouldn’t be a problem if you are playing with those on the platform as well — more or less, they are also experiencing jitters. But if you’re put up against players who are using more snug platforms like Xbox and PlayStation, winning would hardly come to you. Superior architecture aside, players on these platforms can use a lot of cheats that are almost stealth, which Stadia players can’t match.
You should know by now that Google Stadia is a promising gaming platform, but it’s far from perfection. That said, let’s weigh the things you would love and hate about it.
- Practically free
- Affordable premium subscription
- No game download and updates needed
- Access anywhere
- Can play on different devices
- Limited compatibility with mobile phones
- Few games available
Apple Arcade is tightly competing against Google Stadia, but it’s not exactly a cloud gaming platform like the latter. On the contrary, it allows users to download their games on their devices so they can play them anytime — either online or offline. If it has a common denominator with Google Stadia, it’s the fact that it also doesn’t require a console because you can use it right on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or even Apple TV.
Economically wise, Apple Arcade is cheaper than Stadia as it costs $4.99 monthly. You can even get it with an Apple One subscription, which is a collective offer that includes multiple Apple services. Unlike in Stadia, where you need to purchase games in addition to the monthly fee, all Apple Arcade games are available at your disposal as long as you keep your subscription. That aside, its game library is completely exclusive. In other words, you can’t find Apple Arcade games on other platforms.
To answer which between Google Stadia and Apple Arcade is better, it may vary. In terms of pricing, Apple Arcade is clearly the winner. Aside from its monthly fee, you don’t need to spend on anything else. However, although you have to purchase a game on Google Stadia, it will be yours to keep even if you discontinue your subscription.
Apple Arcade focuses more on the special niches. So if you like exclusive indie games, you might want to subscribe to the service. But if you like playing games that already have a wide user base, Google Stadia might be the way to go.
Google Stadia may be the new kid on the block but that doesn’t mean it’s an outcast. In fact, it’s a great option for people who want to get serious about gaming but are not ready to invest in consoles or gaming PCs.
Among the things to love about the platform is that it doesn’t rely on a single device. You can play it on an infinite number of devices anytime as long as they are compatible. If we are to nitpick, the platform’s limited availability is a major snag. We can’t wait for how fun it will be when Google Stadia finally arrives in the rest of the world.