While we’ve learned a lot about Google’s upcoming game streaming platform, Stadia, since its initial announcement, several burning questions remain.
Google’s Phil Harrison, who heads Stadia, touched on some of those questions, such as data caps, pre-launch betas and game pricing and availability, in a series of interviews this week.
First up was the matter of data caps. Many ISPs offer internet packages with a data cap. However, streaming Stadia games at 4K would require a 35Mbps connection, which means it could take about 63.5 hours to burn through a terabyte of data. In other words, Stadia likely won’t play well with data caps.
In an interview with GameSpot, Harrison argued that the calculations people have made don’t take into account all the factors that go into a Stadia stream, such as compression. He said Google would sometimes compress the Stadia stream during specific periods, which uses “significantly less data” than just multiplying 35Mbps by the time you play, as others have done.
Harrison also noted that when downloading and streaming music, TV shows and movies became popular, data caps adjusted accordingly.
It’s worth noting that in Canada, a lot of home internet packages on offer include unlimited usage, but those plans also tend to come at a premium. The more affordable internet packages also tend to have tight data caps and going over can be really expensive. Not to mention that in rural areas of Canada, internet connections are often poor, or rely on cellular networks.
Finally, he also talked up how Stadia allows games to track usage and control the resolution they stream at, which could help gamers avoid overages.
In another interview with GamesRadar, Harrison said that Google wouldn’t host another beta before Stadia launches on November 14th.
Additionally, Harrison told the publication that purchasers don’t have to worry if a publisher decides to take a game off the Stadia platform — anyone who buys the game through Stadia will still have access to it. Pulling a game means it simply wouldn’t be available for purchase anymore. In other words, Stadia users won’t have to worry about a scenario where their favourite game gets pulled off the platform, like sometimes happens with content on Netflix.
Finally, Harrison said he doesn’t expect games to be cheaper on Stadia compared to PlayStation or Xbox in an interview with Eurogamer. As for why gamers should buy games through Stadia instead of other platforms, Harrison pointed to how games will be available on all your screens and devices as the main draw for Stadia.
Update 07/02/2019: Added context detailing Canadian internet caps, unlimited and more.