Testing Google's New 'Stadia' Cloud Gaming Platform on a Mac

Google this week began rolling out its new cloud gaming service, known as Stadia, which is designed to let you play games wherever WiFi is available on smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs, and more.

Google Stadia doesn't work on the iPhone at this time (though you can use the app to manage your account), but you can play games on the Mac so we thought we'd give it a try in our latest YouTube video.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Right now, Stadia is available to those who ordered the Founders Edition bundle, which was priced at $129, but it will soon be available to everyone.

There are a few cloud-based gaming services on the market such as PlayStation Now and GeForce NOW, so Google Stadia isn't a new concept, but Google promises a simple hassle-free experience that works cross platform.

Basically, to use Google Stadia, you sign up for an account ($9.99 per month for 4K streaming and a selection of free games) and then you can access games on a Mac, Windows PC, Chromebook, or a TV using a Chromecast Ultra, with Stadia also available on Pixel 2, 3, and 4 smartphones running Android 10.

The $9.99 per month fee is to access the Stadia platform. You still need to purchase games separately, and major titles are going to cost anywhere from $30 to $60. There aren't a ton of games available right now, but you can play Red Dead Redemption 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat 11, and a handful of other popular games.

We tested Stadia on a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, and found it to be simple and straightforward to use. All of our games were available right away after logging in to Google Stadia via a web browser, with no downloading or installing required to play.

Because these are cloud-based games, you can pick up where you left off on any compatible device, so a game started on the Mac can later be picked up on the TV.

Setup was simple, but the gameplay experience was, well, average. In testing, there was quite a bit of lag and several drops in resolution. Gameplay would be stable for a bit, but we also ran into some stretches where the gameplay was terrible.

Game quality also depended on the game. With Destiny, for example, we saw some hiccups but it was mostly stable, but with NBA 2K20, the game refused to recognize certain button presses and it just didn't work well, suggesting not all games are quite as optimized as they should be. Google definitely has some bugs to work out.

The Stadia service works with any Bluetooth controller, but Google has designed its own Google Stadia controller that shipped with its Founders Edition bundle. We used the Stadia controller, which is pretty similar to an Xbox controller.

Using Google Stadia requires a solid internet connection, so it's not for people who have slow connection speeds. You need at least 35Mb/s for 4K gaming, but even with a connection 10 times that, we had the aforementioned lag issues.

As mentioned before, Stadia is priced at $9.99 per month, but Google is also working on a free tier next year that won't have a monthly fee and will be limited to 1080p quality.

The Founder bundle that we tested Stadia with is no longer available, but Google does have a similar "Premiere" bundle that includes the white Stadia controller (instead of the blue founder model), a Chromecast Ultra, and 3 months of "free" Stadia Pro service. After that, it will cost $9.99 per month.

Cloud gaming has been picking up in popularity over the course of the last few years, and now that Google has launched a cloud gaming service (Microsoft has one in the works too), it doesn't seem out fo the realm of possibility that Apple could launch something similar in the future as an expansion of Apple Arcade.

What do you think of Google's Stadia cloud gaming service? Let us know in the comments.

Tag: Google

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
11 months ago


So you have to pay $10 per month AND you have to buy the games? That makes Apple Arcade sound like a real bargain. Outside of the cloud aspect, why would anyone choose this over competing formats?

Apple Arcade doesn’t have AAA games.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 months ago
So you have to pay $10 per month AND you have to buy the games? That makes Apple Arcade sound like a real bargain. Outside of the cloud aspect, why would anyone choose this over competing formats?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 months ago


So you have to pay $10 per month AND you have to buy the games? That makes Apple Arcade sound like a real bargain. Outside of the cloud aspect, why would anyone choose this over competing formats?

To be fair, you're actually running the game software on Google's high end gaming systems. The $10/month is an alternative to spending $1500 on a gaming rig. Then the game which is running on google hardware is streamed through the service to view and control on your device at home. You're paying $10/month for compute time which is a bargain if the system works. For Macs in particular, there is no possible configuration of mac hardware that can run these games well. Streaming is the only solution.

That said, trying to stream games at 4k in any semblance of real-time is an idiotic idea given the current level of internet tech. There is just too much latency and too many hiccups which is why movie streaming needs to buffer. How do you buffer something that's rendered in real-time? You can't.

It would be nice it if it worked. Personally, even though I spend most of my computer time on a mac, I have a Windows PC that I use for gaming, and I don't see that changing in the next few years. Keeping a $4-500 video card reasonably up to date alone costs more than $10/month though. And, of course, I have to buy the games on top of that.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 months ago
You seemed to have a lot less issues than other people are having.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 months ago
From all the reviews I've seen of Stadia seems like a pretty lousy service. As predicted.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 months ago
This review pretty much sums it up, and made me laugh out loud several times.


"Google's execution of this old idea proves that it's possible to fail in even more spectacular ways than previously thought."

Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

Tuesday September 22, 2020 3:25 pm PDT by
Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that M...

New Images Leak of iPhone 12 Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Thursday September 24, 2020 2:37 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models will ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design. Images of the purported cables were leaked in July, and today leaker Mr White has shared new images that give us a closer look at what we might get included in the iPhone 12 box. The photos show a USB-C to Lightning cable with a clearly braided design rather...

Apple's iPhone 12 Event Could Happen on October 13 Based on Rumors From Mobile Operators

Wednesday September 23, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone-centric event could perhaps be held on Tuesday, October 13, according to information shared with MacRumors by an employee at a UK cellular carrier. There's no way for us to confirm the dates at this point in time nor are we sure on the credibility of the source, but even without a rumor, Tuesday, October 13 is a good guess based on Apple's historic launch timelines, ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Apple Emphasizes That Solo Loop May Increase in Length Over Time, Updates Sizing Guide With More Specific Instructions

Wednesday September 23, 2020 8:26 am PDT by
Apple on Tuesday updated one of its support documents to emphasize that the new silicone rubber Solo Loop for the Apple Watch may increase in length over time, as mentioned in fine print at the bottom of the Solo Loop product page. Apple has also updated its printable Solo Loop sizing guide with more specific instructions, as noted by 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber. The guide now advises users to ...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

Kuo: Mini-LED Displays to Debut in Apple's Next iPad Pro

Tuesday September 22, 2020 11:45 pm PDT by
Following his report earlier this week indicating that Apple will be accelerating adoption of mini-LED displays in its iPad and Mac notebook lineups thanks to better than expected development from potential secondary supplier Sanan Optoelectronics, analyst Ming-Chi has released a new report today sharing a bit more perspective on the mini-LED display market as it relates to Apple. Kuo says...