Google has revealed more about Stadia, its cloud gaming platform that some are calling the “Netflix for games”. We now know when Google Stadia is going to launch, how much Stadia is going to cost, and what games you can expect to play on Stadia.
In March 2019, Google announced Stadia. Google revealed that Stadia was a cloud gaming platform which would let you stream games anywhere and everywhere on multiple devices. However, details beyond that were thin on the ground. Until now.
Google Stadia Launch Date and Pricing
Google Stadia is set to launch in November 2019. It will be available in 14 countries. These being the USA, the UK, Canada, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.
What’s launching in November is Stadia Pro. This costs $ 9.99/month, which buys you access to a catalog of free games (starting with Destiny 2), 4K, 60fps streaming with HDR and 5.1 surround sound. However, that will require a 35Mbps internet connection.
In 2020, Google will launch Stadia Base, which will be available for free. However, you’ll have to buy games separately, just as you would with Steam. Streaming will also be pegged at 1080p, but that means you’ll get away with a 10Mbps internet connection.
Google Stadia Hardware and Games
At launch, you’ll be able to play Stadia games using a Chromecast Ultra, the Chrome web browser, or Pixel smartphones. More devices will be added at a later date. Stadia Controllers are priced at $ 69, but you can use a PS4 or Xbox One controller instead.
In terms of games, Destiny 2 is available for free to Stadia Pro subscribers. Google revealed 31 titles from 21 different publishers which will be available to buy. Titles include DOOM Eternal, GRID, Baldur’s Gate 3, Final Fantasy XV, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
One place for all the ways we play. ?????????????? Take a look at the first lineup of games coming to Stadia. pic.twitter.com/39eC6GSeco
The only thing you can do today is pre-order the Stadia Founder’s Edition from the Google Play Store. This buys you a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia Controller, three months of Stadia Pro, a three-month Buddy Pass, and first dibs on securing a name. All for $ 129.99.
Will Google Stadia Succeed or Fail?
It’s fair to say that this announcement has split opinion amongst gamers. The catalog of games is small, the range of mobile devices supported is lacking, and most games will need to be bought seperately on top of the $ 9.99/month subscription.
However, Google Stadia has huge potential to succeed over the longterm. Mainly because there’s no need to buy hardware upfront. Putting $ 0 down rather than $ 400-plus on a console means gamers can spend more money on games to feed their addiction.
Did you know Google has hidden games within its default Google Search? You can play these games within the default Google.com itself, without visiting any other site. That means no pesky firewall can stop you.
Then there are other games that were part of Google’s famous doodles but aren’t available easily since the doodle keeps changing. Don’t worry though, there are sites where these playable doodles are still active today.
Here are the fun Google games you can play within Google Search or the browser.
That’s right, you can play a full game of solitaire, right inside Google. You don’t need to click any links or download any apps. It is one of Google’s many Easter eggs, hiding there till you stumble upon it.
The single-player game works exactly like the classic Windows Solitaire game you’ve played on the computer. Match the cards in chronological order, alternating between reds and blacks. The end purpose is to separate each suit.
The cool part about this version of Solitaire is that it works fantastically on smartphones too. So you can fire it up on your phone with a simple Google search, and without installing anything.
There are two games most associated with Windows computers and whiling away time. If you can play Solitaire, how could Minesweeper be left out?
The animation is different from Windows, as is the size of the grid. But the basics of the game remain the same. You’ll get a grid of numbers, each denoting how many mines are in the squares around them. Use logic and math to mark some cells as mines, and open the ones you think are safe.
You’ll need a mouse to play this free game on Google. When I tried it with a laptop’s touchpad, the sensitivity of a left-click versus a right-click ended up in mistaken clicks often, and that will end your game in an instant.
And yeah, there are easy, medium, and hard levels. Challenge your friends to beat your time!
When you’re bored in the office or out somewhere, play Tic-Tac-Toe with a friend. This works on mobile too, so you don’t need pen and paper for a quick game.
You can play as the cross or the circle, but know that the cross gets the first turn. Even if you’re alone, you can challenge yourself against Google’s AI. There are different skill settings for the game, so you can start easy and advance to the “impossible” level.
Google has taken the classic Pac-Man game but reinvented the maze with the Google letters. And in the process, it’s made Pac-Man more challenging than ever before.
Like always, the aim is to move your yellow Wakka-Wakka man around, eating all the dots. Avoid the four ghosts who are out to kill you. Eating a large dot turns the ghosts blue for a short time, at which point you can eat the ghosts too.
Because of the shape of the letters, the maze has some tricky corners. It is not as straightforward as the classic Pac-Man, so you’ll need to maneuver carefully. It’s probably best to play this on a computer keyboard with the arrow keys; it was difficult playing it on a phone by swiping for directional changes.
The Chinese New Year in 2013 was the Year of the Snake. To welcome it, Google developed a playable doodle of the classic Snake game. That doodle version is gone, and now you have a classic version of Snake.
Use the arrow keys to move the snake around, eating things in its path. Food will make you grow longer; avoid the barriers or it’s game over.
Google’s Snake also works on mobile screens, but like with Pac-Man, swiping to change direction is much harder than pressing arrow keys in a game that is all about speed. If you can, play it on a keyboard.
Brick-breaker games will never go out of style. Heck, game developers are still reinventing the classic brick-breaker today. Google has quietly tipped its hat to the grand-daddy of these games, Atari’s Breakout.
Searching for it in Google Images will activate a neat animation. All the photos jumble up to form a line of bricks, and magically, a paddle and a ball appear at the bottom. Start breaking the bricks, using the paddle to keep the ball from falling off the screen.
Finish the game and Google will run a new search of a beautiful location, making bricks out of it. And then your next game starts, breaking those bricks of gorgeous places. More fun on the computer than a phone, but hey, it’s entertaining either way.
Usually, trivia games and quizzes implore you not to search the question on Google. A Google a Day proudly lets you search the internet, and makes the game about speed and your ability to use Google search wisely.
Every day, the site poses three trivia questions. The window is split into two halves. The question appears in the bottom half of the screen, with a Google search window in the top half. Once you see the question, use the top half to search for the answer using the right keywords. It’s all a way to improve your Google search skills.
A Google a Day gets tougher with every day of the week. The quiz on Monday is the easiest, and quizzes on Thursday and Friday take some serious Googling abilities to crack. It makes the perfect homepage for your browser, as you will learn something new every day.
The large repository of Google Doodle games has some addictive casual games that you should check out, but the best one is the Halloween 2016 Doodle, the Spooky Cat game. It’s great on computers, but even better on mobile.
Help Momo the cat defend the magical secrets of her school from a bunch of evil ghosts. Above each ghost is a shape. Draw the shape on your screen to kill the ghost. Do it fast, before the ghosts reach Momo and take one of her five lives.
Spooky Cat has only five levels, so you will finish the game soon. But it’s so well-made that you will want to keep playing it over and over. Lovely animations, great sound effects, and addictive gameplay make this one is a winner.
Other Great Online Games
Apart from these hidden games on Google Search, there are several other games tucked away throughout Google products. The most famous among these is probably the Dinosaur Run game in Google Chrome, which starts when you are offline. You can also play the Chrome dinosaur game when you are online by visiting “chrome://dino” in a new tab.
You can now get the Steam Link app for iOS and tvOS, allowing you to play Steam games on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Which is good news for anyone with a large collection of Steam games and a desire to lie in bed playing them. Which is surely everyone, right?
Apple Initially Rejected Steam Link
In May 2018, Valve released the Steam Link app for Android. The company also tried to release the Steam Link app on iOS, but Apple rejected it because of alleged “business conflicts”. Valve appealed the decision, but Apple denied the appeal.
Now, one year on, Valve and Apple appear to have resolved their differences, and the Steam Link app is now available on the App Store. It isn’t clear what prompted the change of heart, but it’s likely Valve changed certain aspects of the app in order to get it approved.
Stream Steam Games to Your iPhone or iPad
Steam Link is easy to download and install. And once set up, the Steam Link app lets you stream your collection of Steam games from your PC to other devices on the same network. And that now includes Apple devices including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
As good as mobile games can be, they simply cannot compete with big-budget PC games in terms of storyline and scope. Which is what makes the idea of being able to play said PC games on a smartphone or tablet such a compelling prospect.
The Steam Link app is now available for free for all iOS and Apple TV users!
The app allows gamers to stream their Steam library to their iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.
There are some prerequisites. You’ll need to have a computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) running Steam, an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or higher, and a fast and reliable internet connection. You’ll also want a Steam controller or MFI controller.
If you have all of those things—as well as an existing collection of Steam games ripe for playing on your mobile device—the Steam Link app is a worthy download. Especially if you want a break from having to sit at your PC to play video games.
Do you look back fondly at games like Duck Hunt, Lethal Enforcers, House of the Dead, Virtua Cop, and other light gun games for classic systems? Unfortunately, while there are plenty of ways to go back and play retro games on devices like a Raspberry Pi, there’s no way to go back and play light gun games on modern TVs, as they require tube TVs in order to function.
However, Sinden Technology is looking to bring light gun gaming to the 21st century with a new piece of technology that promises to make the games work on modern displays. Not only does it allow retro games to work, but it even promises to add some new technology that’ll make the experience even better than it was back in the day.
The Sinden Lightgun
Currently, the folks at Sinden have a working prototype for its light gun, which means backers of the Kickstarter will actually be able to get their hands on one fairly soon and start playing games.
However, according to the creator, the actual light gun is “the first part of a larger ambitious project which is to restore the Lightgun genre by removing the technological blockers.” Not only is it a new piece of hardware, but it’s also a completely new technology.
The gun promises to interact directly with the TV without any additional hardware (like the Wii, which requires a sensor bar). It promises to remain accurate even as you move around the room thanks to a new form of tracking.
The prototype is 3D printed and features a high-speed camera, a CPU, USB interface, a trigger, four assignable action buttons, and a pump action reload feature. The final design will have an additional four assignable buttons, bringing the total to eight.
At this time, there are drivers for Windows and Linux (which includes the Raspberry Pi for any Retro Pi users out there). The creator is working on other OSes, but time will tell whether those come to fruition.
For the time being, the device will be used to play retro light gun games, but the creator says his “long term goal is to bring back the Lightgun to the masses and get brand new Lightgun games made.”
Sinden Lightgun Price and Availability
Right now, backers of the project can get a light gun for about $ 103 (£80). If you want to get one with the additional recoil feature, the price is around $ 168 (£130). The creator plans to ship the light guns in October 2019.
Snapchat has launched its own gaming platform. Called Snap Games, it allows Snapchat users to play games against their friends without ever leaving the app. Instead of ports of popular games, Snap Games is all about original titles from third-party developers.
Snapchat isn’t doing particularly well. It has been losing users to Instagram, and is losing money like it’s going out of fashion. So we can expect to see Snapchat launching lots of new features in the coming months, and it’s kicking off proceedings with Snap Games.
Snap Games Are Mobile Games Made for Friends
Snapchat describes Snap Games as “mobile games, made for friends”. Which is a pretty apt description. Snap Games are mobile games playable from within the Snapchat app. There’s no installation required, and they have all been built using HTML5.
You can access Snap Games by tapping the new rocket ship button in the Chat bar. Here, you can browse the available games, and start playing one with friends. You can send the friends you’re playing a Chat, or talk to them live using Voice Chat.
Snap Games is launching with six titles. These are:
Tiny Royale, a bite-sized battle royale game from Zynga.
Snake Squad, a team-based battle royale game from Game Closure.
C.A.T.S Drift Race, a racing game with an emphasis on drifting.
Zombie Rescue Squad, which sees you rescuing people from zombies.
Alphabear Hustle, a fast-paced word puzzle game from SpryFox.
Bitmoji Party, which features a series of Mario Party-style minigames.
While Snap Games will be free, Snapchat will make money by inserting 6-second ads into each title. As a reward for sitting through the ads, players will earn virtual currency which can then be spent in the games. Snap hasn’t ruled out other forms of monetization though.
Companies Are Jumping on the Gaming Bandwagon
Snap Games is rolling out to Snapchat right now. However, Snapchat isn’t the only company jumping on the mobile gaming bandwagon. In March 2019, Google announced Stadia, a cloud-based gaming platform which lets you stream games on multiple devices.
PC gamers have never had it better. Not a day goes by without a new game hitting the market. Sounds expensive, right? But not to worry, as there are some amazing free PC games available.
In fact, there are so many free games to play, it’s difficult figuring out where to spend your time. Here are the best free PC games in 2019—and the “Genre Alternatives” are all free too.
1. Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment’s free-to-play battle royale game has almost knocked Epic Games’ Fortnite off its perch. While Apex Legends still lags behind in player number, it has surpassed Fortnite in Twitch streaming hours and viewers on multiple occasions since launching in February 2019.
Apex Legends offers a mature take on the battle royale, at least compared to Fortnite. Played on a much smaller map, encounters in Apex Legends are often fast, at close quarters, and usually terminal. That’s not to say you won’t progress to the final few squads. You can hide as the ring closes, but inevitably, the squad that wins has taken others down to acquire the best gear.
Download: Apex Legends for Windows (Free on Origin)
Dwarf Fortress is probably the most intriguing, enchanting, and infuriating game ever made. Developers, Bay 12 Games, continue to update Dwarf Fortress for free. So, what is it?
You can play Dwarf Fortress as a roguelike, a management sim, an exploration tale, and more. That’s because the possibilities are endless as you attempt to keep your colony of dwarves alive, happy, fed, and working.
The original graphics set is off-putting. There’s no beating about the bush. It makes the extensive (and sometimes fiddly) controls challenging to get to grips with. However, numerous wonderful community tilesets turn the original Dwarf Fortress into a colorful, more accessible proposition.
Path of Exile is one for fans of Diablo and other dungeon-crawling RPGs. Originally released back in 2013, Path of Exile continues to receive regular updates and is now a top ranking free-to-play game.
The storyline isn’t fantastic, hitting those classic RPG tropes: washed up, lost, clothed in rags, fight to become the ultimate beast slayer. However, Path of Exile does create a unique identity with its extensive skill trees, an incredible range of loot, and the new bosses, game systems, and play styles regularly arriving.
Download: Path of Exile for Windows (Free on Steam)
Duelyst is a wonderful collectible-card game that intersects tabletop gaming and chess. Sounds like a lot to take in? Duelyst lets you jump in at any level. You can easily play a few casual games of Duelyst without worrying too much about the tactics and meta of the game. If you find you enjoy it, you can immerse yourself in the decks, playstyles, factions, unlockables, and more.
In Duelyst, you have a deck of cards belonging to one of six factions. You build your deck around a champion, who has a unique skill. Some of the cards in your deck also have special abilities, and you can unlock more powerful and specialized cards the more you play. Once your deck is ready, you take turns to play cards against an opponent, powering up an existing or adding a new minion to the board.
Duelyst looks simple, but it’s often fast-paced, strategically varied, and painful as you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
In 2017, Blizzard made StarCraft II free. Which means one of the best real-time strategy (RTS) games of all time is now free-to-play. The free-to-play offering covers the original StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty single player campaign, but not the follow-ups, Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void, or Nova Covert Ops.
The free version of StarCraft II also allows you to access the ranked multiplayer league tables. We’re not sure why you would subject yourself to such a torturous ordeal, but each to their own.
Download: StarCraft II for Windows | macOS (Free on Battle.net)
From Blizzard’s all-conquering RTS to the game Blizzard doesn’t classify as a MOBA. If it isn’t a MOBA, Heroes of the Storm sure has all of the core characteristics of one: five-on-five, lanes, a massive array of heroes (taken from other Blizzard titles), and a focus on four specific roles.
Heroes of the Storm is much easier to get into than its more esteemed (or notorious) competitors, League of Legends and Dota 2. The fan-base is seemingly more open, the roles are more comfortable to learn, and the game modes bring variance to each battle to keep it fresh.
Download: Heroes of the Storm for Windows | macOS (Free on Battle.net)
Planetside 2 is an MMOFPS, where you battle to secure different areas across continental maps. With up to 2,000 concurrent players taking part in the battle, Planetside 2 knows a thing or two about epic scale. You can take part in a single fight for hours, log off for a few hours, then log back in to find the same battle waging.
The biggest difference players coming from Battlefield or Call of Duty will find is the time it takes to master and level up weapons and skills. It certainly takes longer to increase those specific skills. However, it isn’t a grind as the battles ebb and flow, and you are not restricted to approaching the battle from a single direction (or vehicle, for that matter).
Genre Alternative: None. Nothing touches the scale of Planetside 2 without a price tag.
8. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex
To coincide with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update back in 2016, Microsoft brought the sublime cars, circuits, and environments of Forza Motorsport 6: Apex to Windows 10. Forza Motorsport 6 was the first time Forza appeared on desktop PCs. Previously, Forza was an Xbox exclusive.
The Forza series has a strong reputation for sweeping circuit designs and fantastic car models, and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex doesn’t disappoint. There are 63 cars in total to race, across 12 different events.
Download: Forza Motorsport 6: Apex for Windows (Free on Microsoft Store)
For a free game, Warframe packs a substantial amount of content. Not least the hoverboard skating mode. But in terms of running and gunning (as compared to Path of Exile’s hacking and slashing), the incredible range of weapons, loadouts, and play styles, there is a lot to take in.
There are massive open world areas to explore, an extensive storyline, and the game receives regular content updates. The volume of content can actually become a little overwhelming, at least to begin with. Learning the numerous game systems takes some time, and figuring out crafting and blueprinting can also feel a bit confusing.
Thankfully, the Warframe community is one of the friendliest around, so don’t be afraid to ask a question. Someone will have asked it before.
Head back to one of the oldest MMOs around to build your characters through 110 levels, over 500 zones, and countless questlines. Yes, EverQuest is still going strong, into its 20th year of continuous development.
As a testament to the game, The Burning Lands expansion was the 25th content expansion, introducing new zones, raids, quests, and spells. It hit the market in 2018—19 years after the original game.
The graphics may look a little dated, but EverQuest holds up in so many other areas. You and a group of friends have thousands of hours of questing across Norrath ahead.