(Pocket-lint) - Google's cloud gaming platform is available across 22 countries, including the UK and US, in its paid and free forms.

Called Stadia, it is the company's "Netflix of games" - of sorts - with games hosted on remote servers and video streamed to connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs.

But what does Stadia offer? And how does it differ from other cloud gaming services?

How Google Stadia works

Google Stadia is a cloud gaming service whereby games can be purchased and played, but don't have to be downloaded to a console or PC.

That's because, through multiple connected devices, including phones, laptops and TVs, you play the game in real time, but it's actually run on a remote Stadia server somewhere else in the world. The video of the gameplay is transmitted to your device over the internet, while the control codes from a game controller are sent in the other direction.

The biggest hurdle other similar services have encountered over the years is latency - the time it takes from the moment you move the controller thumbstick or press a button to the action occurring on screen.

But, where Stadia differs from other platforms, such as Nvidia GeForce Now and PlayStation Now, is that its servers are placed in a vast number of locations around the globe. That shortens the distance between player and a server to stream from.

GoogleWhat is Stadia Googles cloud gaming service and hardware explained image 3

In addition, Google has developed a dedicated Stadia controller that connects to the internet directly via Wi-Fi, rather than your device (when you are playing at home, at least). That means it sends controller codes without having to submit them to your phone, tablet or other connected device first. That cuts down on milliseconds of latency and, in gaming, that really matters.

Usually on a cloud gaming platform, once you've pressed a button the signal has to be transmitted (most often through Bluetooth) to the receiving device, then sent over an internet connection. It is subsequently read by the source device, sent back to the receiving device, then transmitted to your TV (if not using a smartphone or tablet screen). Each of these actions take time and that can be vital to smooth gaming experiences as milliseconds can be the difference between avoiding a bullet or being shot in the face.

The only spanner in the works - latency wise - is that when playing on a mobile device, such as a Pixel phone, you will need to connect the controller via Bluetooth if you want to use it wirelessly, as Stadia will be using your mobile data to play. Alternatively, you can connect it via a cable, which will reduce that additional latency.

Google Stadia compatible devices

Google Stadia doesn't need a dedicated device, save for a controller, as it is playable through existing connected devices.

For computer use, Stadia works through the Google Chrome internet browser. It is therefore available on PC, Mac and Chromebooks without extra dedicated software or devices.

It will also work through other connected devices in time, including Smart TVs (LG plans to have a Stadia app available on its 2021 TVs, for example). At present though, you can only play it on a TV using a Chromecast Ultra, at least officially speaking. It is possible to play it on an Android TV device by sideloading the Stadia APK - but that method is somewhat clumsy. More conventional Android TV support is hoped for.

In terms of mobile use, both Android and iOS are supported, although the latter requires a bit of a work around.

All Android phones are compatible, although the vast majority only work in "Experiment" mode. That means they aren't officially supported unless they are on the optimised phone list below.

However, you can still run Stadia on other Android handsets by navigating to the "Experiments" tab in Settings and tap "Play on this device". There might be some bugs or issues.

The following phones, however, are guaranteed to run Stadia without any errors:

Google Stadia supported phone list

  • Asus ROG Phone
  • Asus ROG Phone II
  • Asus ROG Phone III
  • Google Pixel 2
  • Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Google Pixel 3
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
  • Google Pixel 3a
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 4
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 4a 5G
  • Google Pixel 5
  • LG V50 ThinQ
  • LG V50S ThinQ
  • LG V60 ThinQ
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • LG G8 ThinQ
  • LG Wing
  • OnePlus 5
  • OnePlus 5T
  • OnePlus 6
  • OnePlus 6T
  • OnePlus 7
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
  • OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
  • OnePlus 7T
  • OnePlus 7T Pro
  • OnePlus 7T Pro 5G
  • OnePlus 8
Pocket-lintWhat Is Stadia Googles Cloud Gaming Service And Hardware Explained image 1
  • OnePlus 8 Pro
  • OnePlus 8T
  • OnePlus Nord
  • OnePlus Nord N10 5G
  • OnePlus Nord N100
  • Razer Phone
  • Razer Phone 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 S10+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

As well as the dedicated Stadia controller, compatible phone users can link an Xbox One or PlayStation DualShock 4 controller to their device via Bluetooth to play Stadia games.

Touch controls are also now available when playing games on mobile devices, although the more complicated games are hard to play using the screen.

We don't yet know when, or if, iOS devices will gain support.

Can you play Stadia games over mobile data?

In October 2020, Google officially added the ability to play Stadia games over a 4G or 5G connection on a mobile device.

It could be used in beta form before, but it now works fully and can be switched on or off in settings.

How much does Google Stadia cost?

There are two levels of membership: Stadia Pro, which is paid for, and plain Stadia, a free access plan.

Stadia Pro membership costs £8.99 per month in the UK, $9.99 per month in the US, and €9.99 in other European countries. That gives users up to 4K HDR gameplay and 5.1 surround sound. However, you still have to buy the majority of games on top.

That's because, while Stadia Pro membership entitles users to add several free games per month to their libraries - a bit like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold - it isn't an all-you-can-eat service.

Stadia Premiere Edition bundle is available as a kind-of starter pack. Priced at £89.99 ($99.99) it includes a Clearly White Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra capable of streaming 4K HDR gameplay to your TV. To keep the cost down (it was a lot more expensive previously), you no longer get a voucher code for Stadia Pro membership, but all new users get a free trial anyway.

It is available for free for one month, whether you purchase the Premiere Edition or not. It will then revert to £8.98/$9.99/€9.99 after the trial is over, but you can opt out easily before then.

The alternative plan was originally known as Stadia Base, but is now just plain old Stadia. It is a pay as you go plan - you have to buy games individually, as with Pro, but don't get any free monthly games included. Standard Stadia is also restricted to a maximum of 1080p and stereo sound. The benefit, however, is that you don't have to pay any monthly subscription fees.

You can revert to the free Stadia membership after your free trial of Stadia Pro is over.

With both membership options, purchased games will forever be assigned to your Stadia account and you can play them as often as you like. 

Pricing for new games is determined by developers and publishers. They are around the same price as console titles.

Separate Stadia controllers are available in Just Black, Clearly White and Wasabi colourways at £59 ($69) each.


Google Stadia game list

The Stadia games list is ever-expanding. Here is the confirmed game list so far:

Top PS4 games 2021: Best PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro games every gamer must own

Available Stadia games (as of 2 February 2021):

  • Ary and ythe Secret of Seasons
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Assassin's Creed Origins
  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate
  • Assassin's Creed Unity
  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla
  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • Baldur's Gate 3 (Early Access)
  • Borderlands 3
  • Cake Bash
  • Celeste
  • Chronos: Before the Ashes
  • Crayta
  • Cthulhu Saves Christmas
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Destiny 2
  • Destroy All Humans!
  • Doom
  • Doom 64
  • Doom Eternal
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • El Hijo - A Wild West Tale
  • Embr (Early Access)
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Everspace
  • F1 2020
  • Family Feud
  • Far Cry New Dawn
  • Far Cry 5
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Figment
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Get Packed
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Gods Will Fall
  • Grid
  • Gunsport
  • Gylt
  • Hello Neighbour
  • Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek
  • Hitman
  • Hitman 2
  • Hitman 3
  • Hotline Miami
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
  • Human Fall Flat
  • Humankind
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising
  • Into the Breach
  • Jotun: Valhalla Edition
  • Journey to the Savage Planet
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Just Dance 2021
  • Just Shapes & Beats
  • Kine
  • Kona
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • Little Big Workshop
  • Little Nightmares
  • Lost Worlds: Beyond the Page
  • Madden NFL 21
Square Enixwhat is stadia googles cloud gaming service and hardware explained photo 10
  • Marvel Avengers
  • Metro 2033 Redux
  • Metro Exodus
  • Metro Last Light Redux
  • Monopoly
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
  • Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 3
  • Monster Jam Steel Titans
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • MotoGP 20
  • NBA 2K20
  • NBA 2K21
  • Octopath Traveler
  • One Hand Clapping (Early Access)
  • Orcs Must Die 3
  • Outcasters
  • Outward
  • Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle
  • Panzer Dragoon: Remake
  • PGA Tour 2K21
  • Phoenix Point
  • PHOGS!
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Reigns
  • Relicta
  • République
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Risk of Rain 2
  • Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  • Secret Neighbour
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Serious Sam Collection
  • Serious Sam 4
Square EnixWhat Is Stadia Googles Cloud Gaming Service And Hardware Explained image 1
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Sniper Elite 4
  • Spiritfarer
  • Spitlings
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated
  • Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • SteamWorld Dig
  • SteamWorld Dig 2
  • SteamWorld Heist
  • SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Strange Brigade
  • Submerged: Hidden Depths
  • Sundered: Eldritch Edition
  • Super Bomberman R Online
  • Superhot
  • Superhot: Mind Control Delete
  • The Crew 2
  • The Division 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Gardens Between
  • The Turing Test
  • Thumper
  • Tohu
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Trials Rising
  • Uno
  • Unto The End
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 Complete Edition
  • Watchdogs
  • Watchdogs 2
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Wave Break
  • West of Loathing
  • Windbound
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • WWE 2K Battlegrounds
  • Zombie Army 4: Dead War

Forthcoming Stadia games (announced)

  • Chorus
  • Cris Tales
  • Far Cry 6
  • FIFA 21 (coming 17 March 2021)
  • Judgment
  • Outriders: Journey into the Unknown
  • Windjammers 2

What broadband speeds do you need to run Google Stadia?

Google claims that Stadia is capable of running games in up to 4K HDR and at 60 frames-per-second.

It is also capable of up to 5.1 surround sound through Chromecast and the Chrome browser. However, all video performance and sound quality will be determined by your broadband connection and require a Stadia Pro subscription (standard Stadia membership maxes at 1080p).

For the best experience - 4K HDR at 60fps and with 5.1 sound - you really need a recommended speed of 35Mbps. However, games will still run from a recommended, absolute minimum speed of 10Mbps. You will likely be restricted to 720p and stereo, but should still get 60fps.

You can check your speed using a dedicated online test here.

GoogleWhat Is Stadia Googles Cloud Gaming Service And Hardware Explained image 5

Google makes a bold claim that, sometime in the future, Stadia will be capable of streaming in up to 8K and at 120fps. However, that is a long way off and will require far greater internet speeds than many national averages.

NOTE: The resolution of Stadia games is determined by the developers and publishers, not Google. So, while you may be a Pro member and have a Chromecast Ultra or compatible PC running the Chrome browser, a game might not be outputting native 4K HDR. And while you could be receiving 4K HDR video at your end, you might find that the game, such as Destiny 2, is locked to 1080p for performance.

Where is Stadia available?

Stadia is currently available in the following countries: UK, US, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.

Writing by Rik Henderson.