Can I play Stadia games on my computer?

Google Stadia
Google Stadia (Image credit: Windows Central)

Can I play Stadia games on my computer?

Best answer: Yes! However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. Stadia on PC requires Google's ubiquitous Chrome browser, a minimum 10Mbps internet connection to play games at 720p, and the Stadia Founder's/Premiere Edition. And at the time of writing, the 4K option is not available on PC just yet.Required: Stadia Premiere Edition ($129 at Google Store)Works with Stadia: Xbox One Controller ($47 at Amazon)

Google Chrome required

While Chrome is a juggernaut, not everyone is on board with it. Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer still hold a lot of sway, and others like Firefox and Opera keep fighting the good fight. Regardless of where you might fall, Chrome is a must to play Stadia games on a PC.

Why, you might ask? It's because Stadia doesn't require any software to be installed. In fact, it's operating system agnostic, meaning that it doesn't matter if you use Windows, MacOS, or Linux. This certainly falls to Stadia's benefit, since it opens itself to the entire market without a whole lot of work on Google's part.

Google hasn't exactly disclosed why Chrome is required, though I have a hunch it's a vestige of the previous Project Stream, where Google partnered with Ubisoft to stream Assassin's Creed Odyssey to Chrome. Whatever the reason, we just have to deal with it for now.

4K, 1080p… does it matter?

Destiny 2

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

To some, resolution is everything when it comes to gaming. Seeing those crisp graphics details in ultra HD is certainly appealing, so luckily, Google says that Stadia already supports 4K. That feature, however, has not come to PC/Chrome just yet. However, it's scheduled for some time in 2020, which is a very Google-y thing to do. Right now, you're limited to "just" 1080p with a max of 60fps.

It seems, however, that you won't be missing out on too much for the time being. Bungie told The Verge that Destiny 2, one of the launch titles for Stadia, streams at the equivalent of medium graphics settings and 1080p, which is then upscaled to 4K in the video stream that you see on your display. This sort of situation seems to ring true with some other titles, like Red Dead Redemption 2, also.

Can I play my PC games on Stadia?

No, unfortunately. Unlike something like Nvidia Gamestream/GeForce Now or Steam Link, you cannot connect your Steam account to Stadia and play games already purchased. You have to buy the games all over again on Stadia since it's its own platform.

This also means that your ability to play Stadia anywhere doesn't include your pre-existing PC library. It's a bummer, but as I mentioned above, there are some other options available to you to stream your PC games to a phone or separate machine, within or outside your home network.

What else do I need to know?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Before you head off and buy some Stadia games to play on your PC, it's worth bearing in mind the following:

  • Google says that, at the very least, a 10Mbps connection is required to play games at 720p.
  • You need to have a Founder's Edition, Premier Edition, or Buddy Pass, plus the Android or iOS app, to play on PC.
  • You can play with mouse and keyboard or with a controller, including the Stadia one (as long it's plugged in via USB).
  • Using Google Stadia, regardless of what device you're on, will quickly eat through your data cap, assuming you have one.

Many, if not all, games lack adjustable graphical settings, so you're locked at whatever the game developers and Google have decided is best optimized for the platform. This means that, for now, things like ultrawide monitors aren't supported.

Despite some of the shortcomings, Stadia on PC means that you don't need to have a beastly computer to play these games. Google's servers handle the processing power; you just play the game. Again, I must stress that a stable and reliable, not to mention somewhat fast internet connection is absolutely required to enjoy Stadia games.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is a long-time gamer and PC hardware enthusiast. From the mid-90s on, he has constantly tinkered with computers and played every game he could get his hands on. Coming from a varied background, he found his passion in writing about Android in 2016, which also launched his writing career not long after. Now, Jordan is an avid gamer who just loves sitting down with tea or a glass of cold water to play whatever game has his attention (or he's reviewing), and he's lucky enough to make a living out of doing so. You can find him on Twitter if you want to chat: @jccpalmer.