Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Google Inc.’s Stadia is set to enter the gaming arena this November. The American tech giant’s take on the future of video games will arrive simultaneously in 14 countries, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and 11 other European nations.Announced in March at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Stadia upends the concept of game platforms as hardware. It’s instead a streaming service that will let people play games on almost any screen — a TV, PC monitor, tablet, or even a phone — with all of the processing being done in the cloud on machines with high-end gaming specifications, including custom graphics chips from AMD.Fittingly, Google delivered Stadia launch details via a consumer-focused streaming event Thursday morning. The service will initially be available only through a package called the Founders Edition, which Google says will ensure a premium experience. This kit includes a limited edition Night Blue Stadia controller that uses WiFi to connect directly to games running in Google’s data centres; a Chromecast Ultra streaming device; and a three-month subscription to the Stadia Pro Service. The Founders Edition is priced at $169 in Canada, with pre-orders available now. Google moves to upend gaming industry with the holy grail: A streaming platform called Stadia Rage 2 review: Why fun with guns isn’t enough Innovation Nation: How Montreal’s status as a video game development hub is helping fuel innovation in Canada The Founders Edition package also includes a Buddy Pass that can be gifted to a friend to let them try Stadia Pro for three months. Stadia can work with a variety of controllers and screens, so recipients of the Buddy Pass may not need to purchase anything extra to begin playing, though Google has made Stadia controllers available outside the Founders Edition package for $89.The Stadia streaming service will be available in a couple of flavours: Pro and Base. The Pro service is priced at $11.99 per month in Canada, and will offer ongoing access to an expanding collection of games for the duration of the player’s subscription, with the option to purchase additional games not included in the subscription at a discount. Games streamed through Stadia Pro will be available in 4K HDR at 60 frames per second with 5.1 surround sound.The Base version of the Stadia service is free, with no games included. Instead, users will be able to purchase the games they want to play as they go at full price. Stadia Base game performance will max out at 1080p with stereo sound, which means players craving a truly high-end experience will be forced to subscribe to the Pro service. Stadia Base will not be available at launch, but will arrive sometime in 2020.Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks during the GDC Game Developers Conference on March 19, 2019 in San Francisco, California. As for games, Google says software will arrive in waves and has announced a tentative launch window library that will expand as November draws closer. More than 30 current and upcoming games from publishers such as Ubisoft Entertainment SA, Bethesda Softworks LLC, and Square Enix Holdings Co. Ltd. have been announced so far, including: Doom Eternal, Destiny 2, Rage 2, Metro Exodus, Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Additional publishing partners, including Electronic Arts Inc., Rockstar Games Inc., and Capcom Co. Ltd., are also slated to announce titles at some point. Google has confirmed a pair of Stadia-exclusive launch titles — U.K.-based Coatsink Software Ltd.’s Get Packed and Spanish game maker Tequila Works SL’s Gylt — with as-yet unannounced projects underway at its own first-party studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment.The big question on many gamers’ minds remains how well Google’s game streaming technology will work. The primary technical hurdle such services face is latency, or the delay that happens when player inputs are sent to data centres that are potentially hundreds of kilometres away, as opposed to the few metres that separate controllers from consoles in more traditional gaming environments. Digital Foundry tested Stadia and found it has about twice the latency — 166 milliseconds versus 79 milliseconds — that players experience when playing games on a PC. Whether this is noticeable will likely depend on the player. Casual gamers may not sense any lag in control, but highly competitive players might.The answer to this question is now closer than ever. Come this holiday season, gamers will have a better idea of whether the future of games is indeed a place, as Google envisions, or whether players will opt to remain tethered to their hardware a little while longer.

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