The Google Stadia Founders Edition is a new bundle meant to give you everything you need to enjoy Google Stadia, the new cloud gaming service that is due in November, and which promises to usher in a new era of console-free gaming. The Founders Edition is currently available for pre-order, but Google says only a limited number of them will be available for purchase.
When it comes to Stadia, Google has talked a big game (sorry). With Stadia, Google promises “one place for all the ways we play,” and it has presented itself as a democratizing force for gaming. Without having to buy expensive consoles or PC gaming rigs, gaming will be more accessible to more people than ever before.
But there are still questions. For one, Google Stadia has only demonstrated theservice publicly once, and the performance was laggy. When Google Stadia hosted its first-ever Stadia Connect session to share details about the upcoming roll-out, the company’s presentation notably omitted a public demonstration, too. That’s got some gamers wondering whether Stadia will be ready for prime time.
Google Stadia Founder’s Edition: Price
The Stadia Founders Edition bundle costs $129, and comes with three months of access to Stadia Pro, which costs $9.99 per month. In addition to three months of the service, the Founders Edition will include two pieces of hardware and some other assorted goodies.
Google Stadia Founders Edition: What’s in the Box?
While Stadia says it will eventually run on any device with a Chrome browser, this won’t be the case to start. To that end, people who order the Founders Bundle will also receive the following hardware with free shipping:
- Google Stadia Controller: The Stadia controller doesn’t really re-invent the wheel, and is basically a fusion between the signature controllers offered by Playstation and Xbox. This makes sense, as Stadia wants you to be able to play games optimized for either consoler. The Stadia controller is $69, and will offer some unique functionality like a Google Assistant integration.
- Chromecast Ultra: The Chromecast Ultra is the latest edition of Google’s low-cost dongle that you can connect to your TV and stream video. It’ll be necessary to use Stadia at first. At $59 (recently marked down from $69), throwing in a Chromecast Ultra means that the hardware alone is almost enough to make the Founders Edition worth your money. But if you already have the Chromecast, you may find the bundle lacking.
Google Stadia Founders Edition: What Else Is Included
To sweeten the pot further, Google Stadia includes a few other goodies. People who sign up for the Founders Edition will also receive the following perks:
- Limited-edition Night Blue controller: People who buy controllers later will have to choose between three colors, “Clearly White,” “Just Black,” and “Wasabi.”
- First dibs on Stadia Name: This means that people who sign up with the Founders Edition will be able to select their actual names, as opposed to having Stadia generate a numeric identifier (i.e., James23452345).
- Three Month Buddy Pass: Another helpful addition to the Founders Bundle is that people will get a three month free pass to share with a friend. Be sure to use it quickly, though, the Buddy Pass will expire after three months, according to the Stadia site’s fine print.
- Three Months Access to Stadia Pro: The Founder’s Bundle will also include three months of access to Stadia Pro, the main Stadia service which will offer access to an array of games for a fixed monthly price, plus the ability to buy additional titles a la carte.
Google Stadia Pro: What’s Included
Google Stadia Pro is basically the core offering of Stadia, and what most people who buy the service in November will likely receive. It comes with the following:
- Play with resolution that’s up to 4K/60fps/HDR with 5.1 surround sound, depending on the quality of your internet connection.
- Access to more than 30 free games including titles from Rockstar and EA (you can check out the full list here.)
- Discounts on future titles that become available for purchase on Stadia.
- The “full Destiny 2 experience,” which includes the game, all previous add-ons, the new Shadowkeep expansion and the annual pass. This addition to Stadia Pro will only be available for a limited time, the company says.
Google Stadia Founders Edition: Where Can I Get It?
In edition to the United States, Google Stadia will be available to start in the following regions: Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom. At least to start, the service will not be available in Guam or Hawaii, according to the Stadia site’s fine print.
Google Stadia Founders Edition: What Internet Will I Need?
Google says that the minimum required download speed to run Stadia games will be 10 Mbps for 720p, and 35 Mbps to stream 4K games at 60 frames per second. This is notably about 10 Mbps faster than Google claimed at its GDC announcement in March.
Google Stadia Founders Edition: Is It Worth It?
The Stadia Founders Edition is a pretty good deal. Particularly as Microsoft seems to be walking back the hype about its future cloud gaming service xCloud, the Founders Edition increasingly seems to be the best option for gamers who want to among the first cloud gamers. The hardware alone covers most of the bundle’s cost, so if you don’t yet have a Chromecast it seems like mostly a no-brainer.
That said, there is a major caveat in that it’s not yet completely clear that Stadia will actually work. You don’t want to fork over $129 only to find out in November that Stadia games lag.