The search wizards at Google have finally decreed the launch date for their new cloud gaming platform, Google Stadia. Arriving next month on November 19th, Stadia will begin its cloud gaming service at 9am PST, 5pm BST and 6pm CET. Or at least it will if you ordered one of Google's Stadia Founder's Edition bundles, as the regular 'Base' edition of Stadia (the one that doesn't involve signing up for a subscription) still isn't set to arrive until sometime next year. So what will you actually be able to do on November 19th? Read on for more details.
As Google's vice president of product at Stadia John Justice (what a name) says on Google's blog post, it's the Stadia Founder's Edition bundles that will start arriving on November 19th, which includes the night blue Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro, as well as a buddy pass so you and a friend can play Stadia together.
Founder's Edition owners will still have to buy individual Stadia games, I should note, but they will be able to stream them in 4K HDR and 5.1 surround sound on their TV once they do so. The only free game that's available as part of their Stadia Pro subscription (at least for now) is Destiny 2: The Collection.
However, Google have also stated that Founder's Editions will begin shipping in the same order that pre-orders were received, so if you only ordered one in the last week or so, then you're almost certainly going to be at the back of the queue. As such, you might have to wait a teeny bit longer than November 19th before your Stadia packet plonks through your letterbox, but at least Google have said they'll send you a code so you can activate your Stadia account and Stadia Pro subscription (and presumably browse and use the service on your PC or laptop) while you wait for your TV kit to arrive.
As I said in my Stadia explainer, however, you don't necessarily need to pay for a Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller if you're planning to use Stadia on your PC. After all, Stadia is fully compatible with existing mice and keyboards and other third party controllers, so you only really need all the Google hardware if you're playing on TV. What's not clear yet, though, is whether you'll simply be able to buy a Stadia Pro subscription come November 19th and start using Stadia that way. Right now, the only thing you can pre-order on the Stadia website is the £119 / $129 Founder's Edition, so I'll be intrigued to see whether regular Pro subscriptions (which cost £8.99 / $9.99 per month) will become available once it's launched.
If you just want to use the Base version of Stadia (which is the free, non-subscription version that limits you to streaming at 1080p in stereo sound with no free games), you'll have to wait a lot longer. At the moment, Google have yet to announce an exact release date for Stadia Base, as it's still set for some nebulous time "next year".