Google shared a lot of information about it’s new video game streaming platform at yesterday’s GDC presentation, and we’ve learned even more about the technology through interviews, like the one Kotaku had with Stadia boss Phil Harrison on Splitscreen. But there’s still a lot we don’t know.
Google has not said exactly when it comes, how the service will be priced and what games will be available on it. The company has said it plans to reveal those types of details sometime in the summer.
Until then, here’s a breakdown of what we’ve learned from yesterday’s event, Harrison’s interview and an analysis of the service’s performance by Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, followed by a list of what we’re still waiting to find out:
What Google has said:
At launch, Google says the service will be able to run games at up to 4k at 60 fps with a 30 Mbps connection, with presumably a slower speed allowing for 1080p.
The platform will scale down the framerate and graphics for internet connections below 30 Mbps. “If you have less bandwidth we’ll give you a lower resolution,” Harrison told Kotaku.
All Stadia games will require a constant internet connection. If your internet goes down, you can’t play them.
Stadia can run on any device that has Google Chrome, including phones, tablets, PCs, and TVs.
The Stadia data center PCs where games will actually be running will use Linux.
Data centre PC specs: GPU: 10.7 teraflops, 56 compute units, HbM2 Memory. CPU: Custom x86 Processors, 2.7 GHz, Hyperthreaded, AVX 2. Memory: 16GB of RAM, up to 484GB/s transfer speed, L2+L3 Cache of 9.5MB
Early on, releases from the newly-formed first-party studio Stadia Games & Entertainment will be smaller and aimed at highlighting the platforms unique capabilities.
First-party games will be Stadia exclusives.
Most second-party games will be exclusives and the ones that aren’t will have Stadia exclusive features.
Doom Eternal has been confirmed for Stadia.
The Stadia controller is required to play games on a TV with a Chromecast.
Google has sent Stadia dev kits to over 100 development partners. Harrison told us that the games available on Stadia at launch and shortly after will be revealed in the summer.
According to Harrison, the video game-inspired icons shown during the lead-up to the GDC presentation are not indicative of the types of games coming to Stadia and were just for fun.
What we still need to find out:
It’s unclear what the minimum internet connection is to use Stadia. Can it run games at 480p at 30 fps with a 10 Mbps connection?
What amount of latency is Google targeting for Stadia and what will the minimum threshold be for people to be able to play games on the platform?
We don’t know how Stadia will be priced or packaged. Will the service itself cost money in addition to individual games? Will there by subscription programs like Xbox’s Game Pass that give people access to a bunch of games instead of having to buy each one individually?
What happens when Google decides to shut down certain Stadia servers or re-allocate the data centres in the future? Google is known for starting projects and then eventually abandoning them. Harrison told us that even when some Stadia games stop getting played as much the back ups will still exist, but declined to comment on what would happen if the servers they were stored on were shutdown.
Is there any minimum technical requirement for the phone, tablet, laptop, or PC being used? Will Stadia downscale to compensate for low-end phones or Chromebooks?
We know the Stadia controller requires its own WiFi connection. Is that requirement included in, or in addition to, the 25 Mbps needed to stream games at 1080p and 60 fps.
Google said it’s committed to cross-play with Stadia, but did not specify whether it meant cross-play just between devices that can run Stadia or with other platforms like PS4, Switch, or Xbox One.
Are features hyped in the presentation like State Share and Crowd Play optional for developers, or will all Stadia games be required to have them?
How will Google moderate the platform? In his Splitscreen interview, Harrison said the focus would be on “marginalising toxicity” rather than necessarily getting rid of it altogether, and added that game developers publishers will be able to choose the influencers they work with and how, but didn’t specify what tools they would have to try and prevent the abuse in, say, a standard YouTube video comments section, from spilling over into the very YouTube-connected Stadia experience.