What is Stadia? Here's what you need to know about Google's game-streaming platform

What is Stadia? Here's what you need to know about Google's game-streaming platform
Google Stadia is a cloud-gaming service that can stream 4K resolution games and supports high-dynamic-range.INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images
  • Stadia is a cloud-based platform for streaming games that Google introduced in November 2019.
  • With Stadia, you can also play the latest games without a console or a gaming PC — all that's required is a computer with a Google Chrome browser, a Chromecast Ultra device with a screen and a compatible controller, or an Android device.
  • Stadia drew criticism upon its launch, but the streaming service has improved since then.

Stadia, the cloud gaming service Google introduced in November 2019, wasn't exactly a success when it made its debut.

Stadia has since addressed initial criticisms, and its business model represents a paradigm shift in gaming. So if you're confused by or unfamiliar with Stadia, don't worry: You aren't alone.

What you need to know about Stadia

Stadia is Google's debut into the growing market for streaming video games. In the not-so-distant past, the idea of playing a recent big-budget game without a console or PC, or a physical copy of the game, seemed pretty outlandish.

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But with Stadia, you can play games like "Destiny 2" or "Assassin's Creed Valhalla" without an Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, or a gaming PC.

Compatible devices for Stadia

You can play Stadia games on a variety of devices, including a computer with a Google Chrome browser; a Chromecast Ultra with a compatible controller; or certain Android devices. Even iOS devices will be able to stream Stadia eventually, using a web-based application that circumvents Apple's App Store.


What Stadia costs

The free version of Stadia requires you to purchase the games you stream; however, you can access them indefinitely. You don't have to buy the Stadia hardware kit to access Stadia;

The hardware kit, called Stadia Premiere edition, is $99.99 and includes the Stadia controller and Google Chromecast Ultra.

At $9.99 a month, Stadia Pro, in contrast to the free version of Stadia, gives you Netflix-like access to its catalog of games.

Although the available games change month-to-month, you can "claim" a game and maintain access to it as long as you're subscribed to Stadia Pro. If you cancel your subscription, you can play a game up until the subscription period ends. If you sign up for Stadia Pro again, however, the games you've previously claimed will be available to play once more.

Initial reaction to Stadia and subsequent developments

Google's attempt at gaming was not well-received upon launch. The gaming world is a tough crowd, and Stadia was slammed by critics in its early days.


Subsequently, Google has addressed certain problematic aspects of Stadia. Some of the biggest initial concerns about Stadia included a noticeable input lag, the lack of mobile Stadia support for iOS, and a paid monthly subscription being the only available access to the platform at its launch.

In addition to the implementation of Stadia's free tier, as described in the section above, any Stadia user can currently access and play the games "Destiny 2" and "Super Bomberman R Online" for free using any compatible device. Also, any user who signs up for Stadia's free tier currently gets a free month of Stadia Pro with access to more than 30 games.

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