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(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 some 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.

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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.

It also works with many third-party Bluetooth controllers (including the Xbox Wireless Controller) but they could introduce a little extra latency in comparison with the official controller.

Google Stadia compatible devices

Google Stadia doesn't need a dedicated device 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 can also be found on select Smart TVs, including some from LG and Hisense. Models featuring Android TV, such as those from Sony or Philips, can also access the Stadia app.

Alternatively, you can add an Nvidia Shield TV to your setup, as that carries Android TV too. Other Android TV set-top-boxes may be compatible.

Of course, Google's own Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast with Google TV can be used to play Stadia games as well.

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 many only work in "Experiment" mode. That means they aren't officially supported unless they are on the optimised phone list below, so could exhibit some bugs.

Google Stadia supported mobile device list

  • Apple iPhone (through Safari)
  • Apple iPad (through Safari)
  • 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
  • Google Pixel 5a
  • Google Pixel 6
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
  • 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
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  • 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 Note 20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • 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
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A
    Samsung Galaxy Tab A7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

As well as the dedicated Stadia controller, compatible phone users can link an Xbox Wireless Controller 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.

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 £69.99 ($79.99) 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 £8.99/$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.

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Google Stadia game list

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

Available Stadia games (as of 6 January 2022):

  • A Place for the Unwilling
  • Ark: Survival Evolved
  • Ary and ythe Secret of Seasons
  • Assassin's Creed 3 Remastered
  • Assassin's Creed Black Flag
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Assassin's Creed Liberation HD
  • Assassin's Creed Origins
  • Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered
  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate
  • Assassin's Creed Unity
  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla
  • Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
  • AVICII Invector
  • Baldur's Gate 3 (Early Access)
  • Ben 10: Power Trip
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
  • Blue Fire
  • Borderlands 3
  • Cake Bash
  • Celeste
  • Chicken Police - Paint it Red!
  • Child of Light
  • Chorus
  • Chronos: Before the Ashes
  • Control Ultimate Edition
  • Cosmic Star Heroine
  • Crayta
  • Cris Tales
  • Cthulhu Saves Christmas
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Darksiders III
  • Darkwood
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Destiny 2
  • Destroy All Humans!
  • Dirt 5
  • Disco Elysium
  • Doom
  • Doom 64
  • Doom Eternal
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • DreamWorks Dragons: Dawn of New Riders
  • DReamWorks Spirit Lucky's Big Adventure
  • El Hijo - A Wild West Tale
  • Embr
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Epistory - Typing Chronicles
  • Everspace
  • F1 2020
  • Family Feud
  • Far Cry 5
  • Far Cry 6
  • Far Cry New Dawn
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Farming Simulator 22
  • FIFA 21
  • FIFA 22
  • Figment
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Floor Kids
  • Foreclosed
  • From Space
  • Get Packed
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Gigantosaurus The Game
  • Gods Will Fall
  • Grid
  • Grime
  • Gunsport
  • Gylt
  • Heist Simulator (Early Access)
  • Hello Engineer
  • Hello Neighbour
  • Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek
  • Hellpoint
  • Hitman
  • Hitman 2
  • Hitman 3
  • Hotline Miami
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
  • Human Fall Flat
  • Humankind
  • Hundred Days - Winemaking Simulator
  • Hunting Simulator 2
  • Ice Age: Scrat's Nutty Adventure
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising
  • Into the Breach
  • It Came from Space and Ate Our Brains
  • Jotun: Valhalla Edition
  • Journey to the Savage Planet
  • Judgment
  • Just Dance 2021
  • Just Dance 2022
  • Just Shapes & Beats
  • Katamari Damacy Reroll
  • Kaze and the Wild Masks
  • Kemono Heroes
  • Killer Queen Black
  • Kine
  • Kona
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Manager
  • Life is Strange Remastered - coming 1 February 2022
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm Remastered - coming 1 February 2022
  • Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Little Big Workshop
  • Little Nightmares
  • Little Nightmares II
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page
  • Madden NFL 21
  • Madden NFL 22
  • Mafia III: Definitive Edition
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  • Marvel Avengers
  • Merek's Market
  • Metro 2033 Redux
  • Metro Exodus
  • Metro Last Light Redux
  • Monopoly
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
  • Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 3
  • Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame 4
  • Monster Jam Steel Titans
  • Monster Jam Steel Titans 2
  • Moonlighter
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • MotoGP 20
  • Murder by Numbers
  • My Friend Peppa Pig
  • Nanotale - Typing Chronicles
  • NBA 2K20
  • NBA 2K21
  • Octopath Traveler
  • Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - The Official Video Game
  • One Hand Clapping
  • One Piece World Seeker
  • Orcs Must Die 3
  • Outcasters
  • Outriders
  • Outward
  • Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle
  • Panzer Dragoon: Remake
  • Paw Patrol Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay
  • Paw Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Awaits
  • PGA Tour 2K21
  • Phoenix Point
  • PHOGS!
  • Pikuniku
  • PixelJunk Raiders
  • PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Rainbow Six Extraction -  coming 20 January 2022
  • Rayman Legends
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Reigns
  • Relicta
  • République
  • Resident Evil 7 biohazard
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Riders Rebublic
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Risk of Rain 2
  • Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break
  • Saints Row: The Third Remastered
  • Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  • Secret Neighbour
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Serious Sam Collection
  • Serious Sam 4
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  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge
  • 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
  • Street Power Football
  • Streets of Rage 4
  • Submerged: Hidden Depths
  • Sundered: Eldritch Edition
  • Super Animal Royale
  • Super Bomberman R Online
  • Superhot
  • Superhot: Mind Control Delete
  • Terraria
  • The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem
  • The Crew 2
  • The Darkside Detective
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark
  • The Division 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Falconeer
  • The Gardens Between
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 6
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 7
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 8
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
  • The Turing Test
  • Thumper
  • Tohu
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
  • Transformers: Battlegrounds
  • Trials Rising
  • Trine 4
  • Uno
  • Unto The End
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 Complete Edition
  • Watch Dogs
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Watch Dogs Legion
  • Wave Break
  • Wavetale
  • Welcome to Elk
  • West of Loathing
  • Windbound
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Wreckfest
  • WWE 2K Battlegrounds
  • Young Souls
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
  • Zombie Army 4: Dead War

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.

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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.

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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.