Google has clarified what kind of internet connection you’re going to need to properly stream the Stadia service, and the answer is leaving some people with doubts and concerns.
“To get 1080p, 60 frames per second, required approximately 25 megabits per second,” Google Stadia head Phil Harrison said in an interview with Kotaku. “In fact, we use less than that, but that’s where we put our recommended limit at.”
For reference, 25 megabits per second is about what Netflix recommends for those who want to stream 4K content from their service. Harrison expanded on that number by stating that 4K streaming via Stadia will require a 30 megabits per second connection (or at least that’s what Google recommends you have if you’re going to attempt to reliably stream games through the service). However, he did not confirm how many frames per second you’ll get when streaming 4K games and whether or not achieving 60 FPS requires an even faster connection.
Here’s where things get even more interesting. Harrison also shared that Stadia will function similarly to services like Netflix in that it will dynamically adjust the output of the game based on the speed of your current connection. This is a necessary feature, but it does pose some questions that Harrison doesn’t answer. For instance, how noticeable are these adjustments going to be? Will it just be the resolution that is affected, or will there be additional input lag as well?
There are a couple more elephants in the room that Harrison didn’t address in the interview. First off, the average American internet speed is believed to be less than 20 megabits per second. To be fair, that is based on a survey conducted in 2017, so it’s possible that things have improved since then. Still, considering that one of the highlighted features of this service is the ability to stream games to your phone and other mobile devices, we do wonder just how much WiFi out there is good enough to stream Stadia in the recommended 25-30 MBps range.
Of course, that’s all assuming that those figures are accurate in the first place. While we wouldn’t accuse Google of making them up, we’ve seen in the past that various user connection speeds can cause real-world issues not anticipated by in-house tests (especially with multiplayer games). It will be interesting to see just how this technology fares in real-world scenarios.