The era of cloud gaming is here. At the E3 event, Google and Microsoft revealed further details about their respective cloud gaming services Stadia and Project xCloud. The cloud streaming is supposed to allow you to play high-end games anytime on any device as long as you have a steady Internet connection. Both Microsoft Project xCloud and Google Stadia have been in the works for over a year. Let’s check out how the two services stack up against each other based on the details available so far.
Google Stadia vs Microsoft Project xCloud: Specs
Google says the Stadia data centers will run a custom AMD graphics processor with 10.7 Teraflops and HBM2 memory. It uses a custom x86 processor with Hyperthreading. Google’s service packs 16GB RAM and a staggering 484 Gbps of transfer speed. It will enable 4K gameplay with HDR and 5.1 surround sound support at 60fps.
Microsoft didn’t share details about xCloud’s data centers. The service will allow gamers to stream Xbox games on other devices with their Xbox One consoles. If you own an Xbox One, the console will serve as your personal xCloud server. There will also be a non-console streaming version of the service.
What platforms do they support?
Google aims to make Stadia available on any device that can run the Chrome browser. At launch, it will be available to play on Macs and PCs via Chrome browser, on TVs via a plugged in Chromecast Ultra TV dongle, tablets and Google Pixel 3 smartphones. Support for more platforms including other smartphones will be added in the future. Since it syncs data with your Google account, you can stop playing on one device and pick it up from where you left on another device.
The Microsoft Project xCloud is going to work a bit differently. The Xbox One console will act as an xCloud server, allowing you to stream any Xbox game on your smartphone or tablet. Without specifying the devices, Microsoft said at the E3 that the xCloud would support streaming on “smartphones and tablets.”
The second version of xCloud that doesn’t require an Xbox console will allow you to stream games directly from Microsoft’s data centers on your devices.
Stadia vs xCloud: Controllers
Google has announced that its streaming service will support most modern USB controllers, meaning you can use any controller of your choice. It supports the Xbox One controller and Sony PlayStation’s DualShock 4 controller. Even the keyboard and mouse are supported on Stadia. For hardcore Google fans who want platform-specific interactivity, the search engine giant has its own Stadia controller that costs $70.
The Stadia controller uses built-in WiFi to connect to the device your game is running on. Users aren’t required to pair the controller with supported devices again and again because Stadia connects directly with Google’s servers over WiFi. It offers wired gameplay, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a USB-C port for charging.
The Stadia controller has a dedicated button to share your gameplay on YouTube and another button to activate Google Assistant to get instant tips.
In contrast, Project xCloud allows you to pair your Xbox One controller with the device you want to play on using Bluetooth. If you don’t want to use the controller, you can stream them directly on your device from Microsoft’s data centers. This service will have touch control interfaces. It’s a good option for people who don’t want to carry around their Xbox One console while traveling. It maps actions to virtual buttons on the screen.
Google is making Stadia available in two versions – Stadia Pro and Stadia Base. The Stadia Pro will support 4K gaming at 60fps with HDR and 5.1 surround sound support. But 4K streaming will require at least 35 Mbps of Internet speed. People with slower Internet speeds can stream games at 720p. The Stadia Base will stream games at 1080p and 60fps.
Microsoft didn’t share the streaming resolution it would offer on Project xCloud. The streaming quality should be similar to that of Xbox One, which supports 4K and HDR gaming.
Google has joined hands with at least 21 developers to bring their games to Stadia. It will include at least 31 third-party AAA titles at launch. Some of the popular games coming to Stadia include Destiny 2, Final Fantasy XV, Doom Eternal, Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Mortal Kombat 11, NBA 2K, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Google has set up its own gaming studio called Stadia Games and Entertainment to build exclusive titles for its platform. But it hasn’t yet shared details about the titles it’s developing in-house.
Microsoft has clarified that the Project xCloud would not get any exclusive titles. On the xCloud, customers will have access to their entire library of Xbox One titles, including the future titles. It means Microsoft’s cloud streaming service will support any title you have in your Xbox One or Xbox Game Pass library.
It’s still unclear what titles would arrive on the non-console version of Project xCloud. Microsoft recently acquired many developers including Playground Games and Obsidian Entertainment to build more first-party titles.
How much will they cost?
While Google has revealed the pricing structure of its cloud gaming service, Microsoft hasn’t. The search engine giant will be selling Google Stadia Founder’s Edition for $130. It will include three months of Stadia Pro subscription, a limited edition Night Blue controller, a Chromecast Ultra TV dongle, and three months of Buddy Pass that you can gift to your friends. You will also be among the first to pick the usernames of your choice.
For just $130, you are getting Google’ controller and Chromecast Ultra, both of which cost $70 each if you buy them separately. If you don’t want to buy the Founder’s Edition, Google offers Stadia Pro subscription service that costs $10 per month. It offers 4K gaming at 60 fps with HDR enabled. Stadia Pro will also include a set of free games, but beyond the free titles, you have to buy games individually.
Google will also launch a free Stadia Base streaming service in 2020. Though Stadia Base will be free to use, you will not have access to Stadia Pro’s free titles and 4K gaming. Its resolution will be limited to 1080p at 60fps. You can buy the individual games of your choice and play them in the Chrome browser.
The Project xCloud service will be free for Xbox One owners. People without an Xbox console will have to pay a subscription fee to stream games, though we don’t know how much.
Google is preparing to launch Stadia in 14 countries in November 2019. It will arrive in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, and Spain. Google plans to bring it to more countries in 2020. It has already started accepting pre-orders for the Stadia Founder’s Edition on the Google Store.
Microsoft hasn’t specified where the xCloud service will become available. It would start public testing of Project xCloud by the end of this year.
Google Stadia aims to offer you the freedom to choose and play from anywhere, but it seems a bit expensive. You have to pay a fixed monthly fee for Stadia Pro and then pay for individual titles you want to play. In contrast, Microsoft’s Project xCloud is geared towards existing Xbox console owners, allowing them to stream titles they already have access to.