When Google unveiled its Stadia cloud gaming platform at GDC 2019 earlier this week, it managed to generate both excitement and apprehension from gamers, in roughly equal doses. On one hand, being able to play high-end games like Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider and Doom on virtually any connected device is a thrilling prospect. But on the other, Google left us with more questions than answers, despite packing a ton of detail into its keynote.
The biggest hurdle for any cloud gaming service is, obviously, access. While anyone with an internet connection can theoretically connect to Stadia (or OnLive, or Project xCloud, or any of the other services currently in development or already discontinued), how fast does their connection need for solid performance?
In an interview with Kotaku, Google VP Phil Harrison said 30 megabits per second will be the recommended limit for streaming games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Testing Project Stream last fall, Harrison says 1080p/60 “required approximately 25 megabits per second,” but suggests that it is possible to hit those benchmarks with a slower connection. Regardless, it all happens automatically, so you won’t have to adjust anything.
Harrison went into even greater detail on connection speeds in an interview with IGN on Thursday:
We’re making significant investments in the data center, hardware, software, and services that encode the video that comes out of our data centers. We can run games in a variety of resolutions depending on the bandwidth you have coming into your home.
IGN also asked Harrison if the company’s Google Fiber initiative might see a greater push in the coming months to give more people the connection speed they need to access Stadia. Harrison had this to say:
It’s the other kind of Google fiber that is helping all players, which is the fiber we have connecting all of our data centers together, the private backbone that Google has, the hundreds of thousands of miles of cable, many of which go underseas and across continents. That is the thing that is impacting the play experience positively for everybody.
Google is aware that Stadia won’t be an option for everyone on launch day, especially in countries where average connection speed still lags far behind. But Google has said repeatedly that it is committed to Stadia for the long haul, and over time, the requirements for streaming games should continue to drop.