Google announced Thursday that its “Stadia” streaming service for video gaming will start rolling out to 14 countries including the United States beginning in November.

The internet media giant made the launch announcement for the service, which will combine a subscription service with game purchase model, via a livestream on its YouTube platform. Appropriately, YouTube will be integrated with the Stadia service.

Initial launch countries will include: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France, and Italy. More countries will be added next year.

No special gaming console or game downloads will be required. Instead, the plan is to eventually make Stadia accessible via PCs and devices using the Google Chrome web browser, Chromecast devices as well as certain tablets and mobile phones, including the Google Pixel smartphones.

However, at the November launch Stadia game play will be accessible via TVs using a Chromecast Ultra dongle. Gaming will be available to start through a $9.99 per month “Pro tier” subscription service providing games at up to 4K/60p resolution with high dynamic range (HDR).

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Accessibility by computers running Chrome browsers and supported mobile devices will begin in 2020. Stadia game play will be compatible with HID class USB controllers, or via a proprietary controller manufactured by Google.

Google is offering early adopters a Stadia bundle package, called a Founders’ Edition, for a limited time discount of $129. This includes a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia game controller, 3 months of Stadia Pro and a buddy pass for a friend. Extra game controllers can be added for $69 each.

Users will need a high-speed internet connection of varying recommended minimum speeds for different resolution levels — 10Mbps is recommended for 720p resolution, 20Mbps for 1080/60p with 5.1-channel surround sound, and 35Mbps for 4K/60p with 5.1 surround. Games will be streamed from Stadia servers at data centers around the world, and eventually users will be able to synch progress across devices.

The “Pro tier” service subscription available at launch will enable streaming games at up to 4K resolution with HDR and 5.1-channel surround sound. Users will have access to 31 games to start, reportedly to include Destiny 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Borderlands 3, Rage 2 and others. Subscribers will be able to purchase games at a discount through a Stadia Online Store at prices that are expected to be comparable to those charged for Xbox and Playstation console titles.

Individual game publishers are expected to announce their own titles for Stadia at the upcoming E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles.

Starting next year, users will be able to purchase and stream games in up to 1080/60p resolution and 5.1-ch sound using a free Stadia base service.

Stadia will be going up against existing and upcoming cloud-based gaming services including Sony’s PlayStation Now that is expected to be updated soon and Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud game streaming service that is currently in trials. In addition, Apple is planning a gaming download service and Amazon is reportedly rumored to be planning a new gaming service of its own by the end of the year.

By Greg Tarr

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