Gaming is definitely changing. Much like many now watch movies on streaming services like Disney+ or Vudu, gaming is also going streaming. Soon consoles will not require discs or cartridges at all, and Google is looking to make sure you don’t even need the console. So what is Google Stadia, and what should parents know about the platform?
Google Stadia is a “console-less” gaming platform. What that means is you can download an app on your phone and then connect via Chromecast to the TV. Your controller can be connected through your phone, TV or computer in order to play.
The platform also boasts no downloads, so you won’t need an external or expensive hard drive in order to store your gaming data. The game will stream online so you can play when you want.
1.Does Google Stadia have built-in parental controls?
The platform actually utilizes Google Family Link to control access to various games and set time limits. You can even control who your child games with online.
You can set up these controls either from the web or inside your Google Family Link parent’s app on your phone. This is one of the big positives for Google Stadia. These parental control options are pretty on point.
2. Can your child play with others?
Any games that are multiplayer, will also be multiplayer on Stadia. However, you can limit their interaction with others online. Stadia also supports “couch-based” co-op games, meaning multiple players using the game from the same room in the same house.
Stadia can support up to 4 controllers connected to the same device, like the Chromecast Ultra, to play on the TV. The service doesn’t currently have any games that are available to play cross-platform though, so you can’t play a game with someone online who is using an xbox or PS4.
3. What do we need to be able to play on Google Stadia?
Since this is a streaming service, you will also need some pretty quality internet speeds. Google recommends an internet speed of at least 10 mbps for a 720p experience on Stadia. Faster connections can experience up to 4k streaming, depending on connection speed. You can test your own speed by going to speedtest.net.
In order to play Google Stadia games on your TV, you will need a Chromecast Ultra and the Stadia controller. You can get a bundle with everything you need by purchasing the Stadia Premiere Edition. The bundle includes a Chromecast Ultra, the Stadia Controller and 3 months of Stadia Pro.
If you want to play on your mobile device, unfortunately at launch you will have to use a Pixel device. Stadia is officially only supported on the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4 phones for mobile gameplay. I’m sure more devices will be forthcoming.
Playing on a PC is the least restrictive way to play your Stadia games. You don’t even have to use the Stadia controller to do so. You can use any HID-compliant controller when playing via USB cable on Chrome or mobile.
4. What games are currently available for Stadia?
The platform has been taking quite a bit of flack for having a scarce supply of games at launch. While the title selection might be pretty small, it has been able to get some very popular ones. The currently available titles are:
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
- Destiny 2: The Collection (available in Stadia Pro)
- Farming Simulator 2019
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Grid 2019
- Just Dance 2020
- Metro Exodus
- Mortal Kombat 11
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Samurai Shodown (available in Stadia Pro)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Tomb Raider 2013
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
More titles will be added in the coming year.
Make sure you pay attention to the ESRB ratings as you choose games for your children to play. You can visit their website, or download the app to help in your decision making.
5. Do I need to purchase the individual games to play?
The Google Stadia Pro subscription will give you free access to some games, and currently allows you to claim Destiny 2: The Collection as a free title, but the rest of the games you will need to purchase individually. The pro subscription can also occasionally get you discounts on individual titles.
If you choose to cancel Stadia Pro, you can play the games you’ve already purchased while you are on the free base plan, but you will lose access to the free titles you have claimed while a Pro member.
It is not currently clear if you purchase a game on one account if it will be able to be shared. Currently, movies and apps can already be shared with other members of your family if they are all connected in Google Family. I would assume they will eventually allow games through Stadia as well, but they may be trying to work out licensing with the game vendors.
Overall thoughts on Google Stadia
As most tech sites have already claimed, the platform is not quite ready for primetime. However, if you are looking for an inexpensive way to get into some console gaming, and your internet can handle it, it’s a great option for Christmas. I’m not sure if the Pro subscription is worth it quite yet, but if they build out their title catalog it could definitely become a force to be reckoned with.
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com