Google recently unveiled its brand new game streaming service at GDC 2019, named Google Stadia. The new cloud computing service will allow gamers to stream games at 60 FPS and high resolution directly to their PCs, consoles and phones. The service is aiming to support a huge library of games and devices, and Google is even bringing accessibility options to the forefront by supporting many different controller options, including the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
During the course of the on-stage announcement at GDC 2019 Google revealed a bunch of details and some basic specs behind the new cloud-based platform. Control options, some games like DOOM Eternal, and a new first-party studio headed by Jade Raymond. One aspect that was missing from the announcements was network-based requirements though.
Due to the core design of the platform as a cloud-based game streaming service, gamers will need a fair bit of bandwidth to support 1080p gaming at 60 FPS. According to an interview by Kotaku with the head of the Stadia team, Phil Harrison, the team behind the service has run some internal tests and has landed on a pretty solid recommendation for the network side of things. Google now recommends around a 25 Mbps downstream rate to reliably use the Stadia service to render games as 1080p and 60 frames-per-second.
Through that testing, Harrison has said his team has been able to “use less than that” for 1080p/60 FPS, but they’ve settled on 25 Mbps as the recommendation for now.
Another interesting tidbit concerns future plans for more graphically intense games, running at even higher resolutions. Google Stadia will eventually support 4K resolution, although it has not been confirmed when this will be added, or if it will maintain a steady 60 frame delivery. The same interview does give a bit of detail, with Harrison recommending a 30 Mbps for the baseline 4K experience. The team is also working on creating variable playback, meaning that the render will automatically adjust to compensate for somewhat slower connections by downscaling resolution and slowing down framerates.
Overall, the 25 Mbps recommendation is pretty attainable for many gamers. Although rural areas or those currently suffering under overpriced and under-performing monopolies may not be able to cheaply access such speeds. It’s worth mentioning that even in 2017, average broadband speeds in the US, which ranked 14th in the world for speed, were in excess of 60 Mbps.
Some gamers might be concerned about how well Stadia will perform in the real world and if these synthetic tests will differ from what gamers will experience when Google launches the service later this year.
We could get a clearer picture of the landscape of game streaming by looking at the recommendations for similar services. Nvidia’s GeForce Now streaming service, requires 20 megabits for just 720p, 60 FPS quality and the jump to 1080p requires more than 50 Mbps. So all in all, it looks like the networking architecture Google is using could have a major impact on bandwidth overhead, which is a good thing. I just hope that Google manages to avoid other pitfalls like licensing disputes, extremely high prices or other things that gamers will hate.