Google’s cloud gaming tech makes sense as a white-label product. For example, Capcom has launched a demo of Resident Evil Village powered by Google’s Stadia cloud gaming tech, letting people test out the horror game in a browser.
Google says that the idea is to let people try out the game, no matter what device they own. But, of course, the game and its demo were already available for Stadia subscribers.
Still, now anyone can try it out for free, provided they have a supported web browser and an internet connection faster than ten megabits a second.
You don’t even need a Google account; navigate to the website, enter your birthday (the game’s rated M), and click the play button.
As for how the demo looks, you get what you pay for with the browser version. Here are a few comparison shots with the Stadia version of the demo on the left and the PS5 version on the right.
Regarding gameplay, however, to quote another one of my coworkers who tried the Stadia demo: “just tried it. looks like shit, lol.”
As someone who cares primarily about story and gameplay, you’ll admit that the demo did its job of letting you know what Village is about. And while it’s not as nice to look at as the PS5 version, you didn’t have to spend about 10 minutes downloading 8GB of data to play it or worry about my computer’s capabilities — you clicked the button.
Within about 90 seconds, you were playing the game (and within three minutes, you knew it was too spooky for us to spend money on). With that said, the demo’s landing page does warn that playing it “may use a large amount of data,” depending on how long you play it.
Capcom isn’t the first to roll out an in-browser game powered by Google’s tech but without the Stadia branding. Resident Evil Village is using something Google calls Immersive Stream for Games, letting other companies white-label the tech behind Stadia. AT&T recently used Immersive Stream for Games to give its customers access to a streaming version of Control Ultimate Edition and Batman: Arkham Knight.
While Google Stadia also has demos of its own (some of which don’t require a Stadia account or subscription), it seems like the idea has more of a future as a white-label product. The companies like Capcom can use it for demos rather than a standalone gaming service like Nvidia’s GeForce Now.
Stadia is a cloud gaming service and only requires the device to maintain an Internet connection and either Chromium support or a trustworthy application. Stadia performs atop YouTube’s functionality in streaming media to the user, as game streaming is a wing of watching video game live streams.
According to Google’s Phil Harrison, the term “Stadia,” the Latin plural of “stadium,” is meant to recall that it is a collection of entertainment, which the viewer can select to sit back and watch or carry an active part in.
As Google has created multiple data centers across the globe, the company believes that Stadia is in a better class for cloud gaming than past efforts like OnLive, PlayStation Now, and Gaikai, as most players would be geographically near to a data center. Stadia supports streaming games in HDR at 60 frames per second with 4K resolution and anticipates reaching 120 Fps at 8K resolution. Players can start games without downloading a new range to their devices. Instead, players can opt to record or stream their sessions onto YouTube via Stadia. Viewers of such streams can embark on the games instantly from the stream with the same save state they were watching.
The streaming technology allows new features on Stadia. For example, stream Connect authorizes Stadia players, cooperatively playing the same game with friends, to hold picture-in-picture inserts on their display of their companions’ point-of-view in the game. The feature was first launched with the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. In addition, the streaming technology allows for a more significant number of concurrent players on a game server; for example, Grid servers are usually limited to 16 players, while the Stadia version allows up to 40.
While Stadia can utilize any HID-class USB controller, Google created its controller, connecting via Wi-Fi straight to the Google data center where the game runs to reduce input latency. Google is also exploring additional ways to reduce latency, using an idea called “negative latency,” which involves predicting user input through various means so that any apparent network lag between controller and game response is minimized.
During its GDC 2019 keynote reveal, Google verified that the controller would also feature Google Assistant, which will automatically search YouTube for appropriate, helpful videos related to the game they are currently playing at the touch of a key.
Stadia provides two tiers of service, a free level (initially at takeoff known as “Stadia Base” but after April 2020, just “Stadia”) and a monthly subscription Stadia Pro level. The free Stadia level limits streaming to 1080p resolutions. The Pro tier costs around US$10 per month but allows users to access higher streaming rates up to 4K resolution, access a library of free games over time, and get discounts on other games delivered for Stadia.
Harrison stated they are also looking into offering future publisher subscriptions and other models; for example, Ubisoft revealed its Uplay Plus (now renamed to Ubisoft+) subscription service would be open to Stadia users. Since April 2020, new users to Stadia are offered a limited period of free access to Stadia Pro features and possess any games purchased during this period to their account if they fall back to the general Stadia level.
Initially, new users acquired two months of Pro access, which was reduced to one month starting on June 3, 2020. In March 2021, Google announced that they are adding full Touchscreen Controls on Android.
Stadia can stream video games to players at up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with support for high-dynamic-range (HDR) via the company’s numerous data centers. In addition, it offers the option to purchase games from its store to stream them or play a selection of free-to-play games.
While the base service is free and lets users stream at resolutions of up to 1080p, a Stadia Pro monthly subscription allows for a maximum resolution of 4K, 5.1 surround sound, HDR and offers a growing collection of free games that—once claimed—remain in the user’s library whenever they are subscribed. Both tiers allow users to play online multiplayer without any additional costs.
Stadia is integrated with YouTube, and its “state share” feature will enable players to launch a supported game from a save state shared by another player via permalink. In addition, the service supports Google’s proprietary Stadia game controller and various non-Stadia controllers through USB and Bluetooth connections.