Earlier today, Google launched its long-awaited “Stadia” cloud gaming service at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Unlike services from Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, Stadia is powered by Google’s worldwide data centers, allowing users to play games across a variety of platforms — browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices — all via the internet at a 4K resolution. One major problem with Stadia, which Google didn’t mention in its presentation, is that it will require a ton of bandwidth, testing the limits of data caps that most U.S. internet service providers have.
“Most US ISPs cap their customers’ bandwidth usage, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 GB per month. And streaming 4K content eats up about 7GB an hour,” Steve Bowling from YouTube gaming channel GameXplain tweeted. “And that’s based on Netflix’s publicly available guidelines for 4K video content, which is shot at 24 fps, a far cry from 60fps, meaning content at 4k60 could be more costly.” He added: “Your average consumer likely isn’t rocking a 100Mbps+ connection, and in some parts of America such options aren’t even available, limiting Stadia’s potential reach. And if you are, that cap can come at you fast, especially considering most folks are going to use their internet for more than just streaming games. Most ISPs offer additional data at a premium, but how many are going to want to pay that premium to stream 4K games?” What’s unknown is whether or not Google will work with ISPs to help alleviate this concern. PCWord also notes that there’s no option to download and install a game if you want, which is an option available on Steam’s streaming service. “You’re always streaming it, and presumably copies sold through the Google Play store won’t come with more traditional versions from other storefronts,” reports PCWorld. “You’re either all-in on Stadia and streaming or you’re not.” UPDATE: A Google spokesperson told Kotaku they were able to deliver 1080p, 60 FPS gameplay for users with 25 Mbps connections. They also said that they expect Stadia to deliver 4K, 60 FPS for people with “approximately the same bandwidth requirements.” How exactly they will achieve this is still unclear.
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