If for you, playing video games rhymes with too expensive console, son who get tangled and endless downloads, forget all that! It is a revolution that begins in the video game: Google launched Tuesday Stadia, its platform dedicated to "gamers", with a small peculiarity: it is neither on console nor on computer. It's cloud gaming, a dematerialized video game. You play directly on Google's servers. A small revolution that Europe 1 has been able to test.
How it works ?
Stadia is a platform for streaming games, totally dematerialized. No more console or powerful computer, everything goes through Google's servers. A bit like when you watch a movie or series streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Apple TV +. In a way, the console is the Google server and you access it remotely. This is called "cloud gaming". Stadia therefore only goes over the Internet: a broadband connection is the only prerequisite to take advantage of Google's video game service.
Moreover, there is no need to download games, you access them directly while you play. Google's promise is to be able to play anywhere, anytime. But also to switch from one device to another without delay: you start a game on computer and you can resume in a few seconds on your phone, where you had stopped.
What is the required material?
To play on Stadia, you just need a screen and a controller. Regarding the screen, Stadia is available on TV (via the Chromecast box), computer (via the Google Chrome browser) and on Google Pixel phones. It's important to note that the quality of the material does not matter because the games run on Google's servers, not your computer or phone. An old laptop can therefore quite enough. However, it is better to have a good screen to make the most of the image quality of games. By 2020, Stadia will also be available on all other phone models, not just pixels, via an app.
For the controller, there is currently no alternative to the Stadia controller. It works in wi-fi for optimal connection. In the coming months, Stadia will be compatible with the joysticks of Playstation 4 and Xbox One, which work in bluetooth.
How much does it cost ?
At launch, Stadia is only available through a paid subscription, at 9.99 euros per month. The best, if you are tempted, is to take the "First Edition Pack", at 129 euros. It includes three months of subscriptions to Stadia, as well as a Chromecast box for playing on TV and a Stadia controller. The pack is not mandatory, it is quite possible to subscribe to Stadia without buying it, for example if you already have a Chromecast. On the other hand, you absolutely need the Stadia controller, the only compatible controller for the moment. It is available for purchase separately at 69 euros.
In the course of 2020, a second free subscription form will be proposed. The difference with the Pro formula: free, the image quality and sound is not as high. In addition, the paid subscription includes a free game at launch ( Destiny 2 ) and others will follow. If Stadia has sometimes been presented as the "Netflix of the video game", the comparison is wrong. Indeed, subscribing does not allow to play games (except those offered). You have to buy the games that interest you, in addition to the subscription, at the classic price of a dematerialized game. The subscription to Stadia is in fact only an access to the technology of "cloud gaming". Hence the interest of the free formula for those who would just like to try the service.
Is there a good internet connection?
Just as it takes a good connection to watch Netflix, it is better to have broadband to play on Stadia. Ideally, fiber should be provided for 4K and Ultra HD image quality, and to guard against latency (mini game stops or image offsets). But, it is quite possible to play with an ADSL connection since the minimum required is 10 megabits / second. Simply, the image quality is reduced.
Small flat: at launch, it is not possible to play su mobile 4G, only wi-fi. This limits the "play everywhere, all the time" side that is part of Stadia's promise. This feature will be integrated in 2020.
What games are available?
This is a little weak point of the launch of Stadia. The proof: Google has urgently added ten games to the initial list of twelve titles announced. Twenty titles more or less interesting, and only one exclusive: Gylt , an adventure game that revolves around dreams and nightmares. The rest of the catalog is composed of games already released, sometimes for several years, like the last trilogy Tomb Raider (2013-2018), Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (2018) or Final Fantasy XV (2016).
Some games released in 2019 have finally been added: NBA 2K20 , Football Manager 2020 , Just Dance 2020 , Mortal Kombat 11 ... Note a nice shot by Stadia: Red Dead Redemption 2 , the fantastic western of Rockstar, released at the end of 2018 on consoles, and in November only on PC, is present in the list. At the sight of this catalog, the profile of the target of Stadia is clear: the casual players, having no console at home and would want to catch all these games. Over the months, new games will be added on Stadia, including releases on other platforms.
Our opinion :
Technologically, Stadia is a step forward towards the video game totally dematerialized. Extremely simple to use, the platform is attractive, provided you have not already played games in the launch catalog, already dated. Once in play, we did not perceive any latency. The transition from one device to another has also seemed very fluid. And the fact of being able to immediately play a new game without having to wait during the download is very appreciable (a step that can sometimes take hours on console). In short, little difference with the console game experience.
A clarification however: we tested Stadia for a little over an hour, to get an idea of how it works. It will confirm what we have seen, after tests in various conditions (less good connection, long game time ...). Similarly, we advise you to wait a bit before subscribing, if only because many features are missing from the release of Stadia at launch. Google has good intentions but the sustainability of the service will actually depend on the cooperation of game publishers.