Very soon you won't need that Xbox or any of that intensive hardware stuff to play your favorite games.

With all of this crisis that is happening, gaming is certainly one of those activities that keep people’s days moving when keeping indoors. Others still debating on what to and not play, what hardware to use and all that stuff.

If you’re planning on ordering any gaming equipment say an Xbox, don’t before you read this. You might get an alternative here.

After a series of testing with a beta version, Google finally launched Stadia, a cloud gaming platform on November 19, 2019.

This might a game changer in the Gaming industry. Time will have to speak.

What is Google Stadia exactly?

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Oh, you don’t need any other hardware apart from your screen and a controller.

Stadia is a game streaming service. We all know how powerful Google’s servers are, I mean all the search algorithms are powered from there.

So Stadia is just using some of these resources with games being hosted on Google servers rather than your local machine. The legacy way requires you to have an Xbox, PS or a high-end PC which powers and processes the game, as well as ensuring the connection between the game and the controller.

With Stadia, you play a game that is running remotely on Google’s servers, which means you don’t need intensive hardware to actually play

If you have used streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, then that same mechanism is what we’re talking about here.

You don’t need to research what GPU can and cannot play Assassin’s Creed. All you need is a screen, a controller and of course the internet and you’re all set. When I talk about the screen, I mean a TV, mobile phone or even a tab.

Though it wasa little rough for the 2019 early adopters, the service has kept on improving.

Stadia enables streaming with a resolution of up to 4K and 60 frames per second(fps) and of course what kind of gameplay would it be without High Dynamic Range (HDR).

If we’re streaming a game 4K with 60 fps and HDR, then internet is a big player in the stadium. You should have your device connected to a very high speed internet connection.

To have a decent experience, you need a connection of about 35Mps. This will enable to stream with a 4K resolution, 60fps and 5.1 surround sound. Google recommends a minimum of 10Mps which won’t be a very nice experience, considering its stereo sound.

Click here to check your internet speed and be sure before you start playing.

Below is a visualized scale of the internet speed that works with Stadia.

Internet speed scale with Stadia quality

If data is a concern, you might want to read this comprehensive guide on how much data you could use per hour.

Who can use Stadia currently?

Since it’s a new service, Stadia is only available in 14 countries. However Google has plans for extending the service to other countries.

So if your country is not covered, no worries, you’ll soon jump on the ride.

Here are the countries supported by Stadia now:

  1. Belgium
  2. Canada
  3. Denmark
  4. Finland
  5. France
  6. Germany
  7. Ireland
  8. Italy
  9. Netherlands
  10. Norway
  11. Spain
  12. Sweden
  13. United Kingdom
  14. United States

Devices supported by Stadia

As part of the Stadia bundle, Google made a controller specifically for Stadia. This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s the only controller you’re supposed to use. There’s support for most of the controllers out there.

You can use Stadia through a TV, PC, mobile phone or a tablet. Unfortunately not every phone is supported currently. At the time of launch (2019), only Pixel phones were supported however support is has been extended to other phones.

Here’s a list of phones on which Stadia is available now:

PixelAsusSamsungRazor
2, 2XL, 3, 3XL, 3a, 3a XL 4, 4XLROG Phone, ROG Phone IIS8, S8+, S8 Active, Note 8, S9, S9+, Note 9, S10, S10+, Note 10, Note 10+, S20, S20+, S20 UltraRazer Phone, Razer Phone II

Streaming from a TV currently requires you to have the Stadia controller which you can get from the Google store. I walk you through the process later in the post.

This page has a list of the supported devices including the controllers.

Stadia Subscription Packages available

Stadia has three packages so far.

A standard package (Stadia Base) that is free, a paid Pro package (Stadia Pro) which of course comes with more benefits and finally the Stadia Premium Edition that we shall see later in the post.

Although the standard Stadia package is free, in order to play any game, you need to buy that particular game. So clearly, it’s not entirely free.

The free version has various setbacks compared to the paid packages. It doesn’t come with the entire bundle of the benefits we’ve talked about.

One of the major setbacks is the streaming resolution that can only go up to 1080p. 1080p is not bad, it’s actually a good one but 4K is way better when we talk about gaming. This is a major factor for gamers. The 1080p resolution is bundled with a stereo sound output.

The Stadia Pro version costs $9.99. This comes with all benefits of the service. With the Stadia Pro package, your account is initiated with a list of free games that you can get started with.

Users subscribed to a Pro package have exclusive access to a number of discounts on games.

The third Stadia package is the Stadia Premium Edition. The cost of this one is a bit higher than the Pro but it’s worth the cost.

The Stadia Premium comes with the Stadia controller, a Google Chromecast Ultra and 3 months of Stadia Pro subscription. If you intend to play your games on a TV then you shouldn’t think twice about getting this one.

The Stadia controller was made specifically for this service. It integrates well with all devices ranging from TV, mobile phone and PC.

The controller communicates directly with the remote Google servers to power your gameplay. Many gamers like recording gameplays, well this controller has buttons designed specifically for that. You can record video clips as well as take screenshots.

You can connect the controller to the screen by using Wifi or Bluetooth. A USB port is also available in case a cable is your preference. Want to play with sound through headsets? Well, there’s a headset jack for you.

You need the Google Chromecast Ultra to stream the 4K resolution with 60 fps on your TV.

Here’s a summary of the Stadia packages.

 Stadia BaseStadia ProStadia Premium
PriceFree$9.99$129
Month of subscription to Pro13
Streaming resolutionUp to 1080pUp to 4KUp to 4K
SoundStereo5.1 surround5.1 surround
Stadia controllerNoNoYes
Google chromecast UltraNoNoYes
Free list of gamesNoYesYes
Redeem discounts on gamesNoYesYes

You can have your copy of the Stadia Premium Edition from the Google Store

If you’re not ready for the Stadia Premium Edition but still want the seamless experience of the Stadia controller, you can have that still from the Google Store listing.

How to play games on Google Stadia

Note: You can have a free Pro account now funded for 2 months. To use this free package, you’ll need to sign up for a Pro account and provide your payment details. You can cancel at any time any where before the free months end if you don’t want to be charged.

You’ve heard all about what you need before you start playing.

So by now you have your screen and controller ready.

Visit Stadia and create an account by clicking on Try Now or something similar

Stadia homepage

Provide all the required details to complete the sign up

The last step of the sign up requires to choose whether to start a free trial for 2 months or to continue with the Stadia base free package. Why wouldn’t you utilize the free stuff? But this is all up to you.

After creating your account, you see a list of available games on Stadia. For Pro users, here you’ll see a list of all free games that you can play.

To play a free game, click on the game and then tap Claim.

claiming a free Stadia game with Stadia Pro

If you have a Stadia controller, you can configure it by clicking on the controller icon at the top right corner of the Stadia page.

Conclusion

I love the concept of being able to play a game over the internet. I mean, this would be a game changer. Stadia is a good start for that. However it’s not yet at the seamless level of playing games like it is on a local device. It can work for casual gamers at the moment but I don’t think the hardcore gamers will be appreciative enough.

We don’t know what the future holds though. Honestly, the service keeps improving and I have hopes it will soon be at the level we all want.

Enock Lubowa
A technologist who writes for both the geeks and non-geeks. I am an entrepreneur and software developer with a Computer Science background. Discuss complicated stuff with me via my social handles below.