Company reveals the requirements to play its new video game streaming service
Google this week can rightly be credited for giving the world an early look at the future of video gaming, with the Stadia game-streaming service.
But one major question everyone had after the launch event was, how fast does your internet connection need to be to stream 4K video games at the headline figure of 60 frames per second?
That figure, according to Google executive Phil Harrison, who spoke to IGN after the announcement, is 30 megabits per second. Given the average US broadband upload speed was approaching 100 Mbps in December 2018, according to Speedtest, many households should be able to get the most out of Stadia from day one.
But some people don't have connections that fast, and Google knows it. As such, the company says Stadia will also work at 1080p Full HD resolution, which should require a connection closer to 20 Mbps. Also to the benefit of slower connections will be a system where Stadia automatically adjusts its quality to compensate for dips in broadband speed, just as Netflix does.
Speaking of the video streaming service, Netflix recommends users wanting to access its 4K content have a connection of around 25 Mbps, so Stadia's need for 30 Mbps makes sense.
Addressing those with slower connections, Harrison added: "We know that our internet bandwidth requirements won't reach everybody day one. There's nothing I can promise that will change that. But we'll work hard to reduce the bandwidth required and increase the quality."
Speaking of how the service will adjust its resolution to keep games flowing smoothly when the connection speed dips, the Google exec said: "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."
While users will of course want the highest resolution possible, in the world of fast-paced video games frame-rate and latency are key, taking priority over outright resolution. A steady frame rate keeps player movement smooth, and low latency removes lag, where there is a delay between the player's input to the controller, and what happens in the game.
Stadia is video gaming without the games console and computer. Instead, the processing of gameplay is done on Google's servers in the cloud, then streamed to a player's television, computer, smartphone or tablet. All they need is a display, a controller, and a good internet connection.
Google says it will reveal more about Stadia in the summer, likely at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles in June. We are yet to be told how much the service will cost, and what games will be available when it launches later in 2019 - the exact date is something Google is also keeping secret for now.