Is xCloud better than Stadia?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Are you choosing a cloud gaming service to play your favourite games on? If so, this article is for you.

The battle in the cloud gaming market is truly heating up in 2021. Some companies such as Microsoft and their xCloud have been at the forefront from the beginning, with an easier transition into cloud gaming because they were already within the gaming sector. While other companies such as Google hold such technological power, the move into cloud gaming, while not the sector that brought them to their commercial success, is one that makes a lot of sense and they can be competitive with the businesses at the top of the pile.

Long gone are the days where cloud gaming was little more than a great idea. For years cloud gaming was dismissed because the technology wasn’t yet sophisticated enough to create a service that could create an enjoyable playing experience. Now though, technology has come on so far that cloud gaming is being adopted by millions of people around the world, and businesses are scrambling to get their slice of the pie.

This article will compare two of the most hotly discussed services available for a player to choose from, Microsoft’s xCloud and Google’s Stadia. So if you are looking for more information and have been wondering, is xCloud better than Stadia? This article will help you answer that question.

But before we begin, let’s make sure we explain what the two companies are and where they have come from.

What is xCloud?

Project xCloud comes from the computing megalith Microsoft. This venture into cloud gaming is a natural progression for the Xbox arm of their business, with cloud gaming being widely touted as the next big development in the cloud gaming industry, they would almost certainly lose their footing at the top of the gaming world if they didn’t implement a cloud service. 

Because xCloud comes from Microsoft, you know that there is a lot of infrastructure behind the technology, which offers a lot of reassurance in comparison to some relatively unknown businesses entering the market.

What is Stadia?

Stadia is the gaming platform Google has released on its cloud infrastructure. Traditionally, gaming was not the realm of Google. But as the business has grown, it’s expanded into wider and wider fields. With the technology Google has developed from other ventures, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when they announced Stadia. Because of the high level of innovation that Google is often implementing, Stadia created a lot of buzz and turned heads within the gaming industry, particularly as people welcomed an increased level of competition to the market.

How do the costs compare?

Stadia Costs

Membership is £8.99 a month for UK players, $9.99 a month for people in the US, and €9.99 for players in Europe. 

xCloud Costs

Currently, for people with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, xCloud comes as part of that service. This costs £10.99 or $14.99 a month, for UK and US players. The pricing for the stand alone service is still yet to be released.

What games are on offer?

For many people, this is one of the biggest deal breakers. You want to be able to play as many of your favourite games as possible. In this section, the two platforms are wide apart.

At the time of writing, Stadia has over 200 games published to its platform, with plans for many more to come in the near future. There are some free games available but if you are on the basic level of the service, you will need to purchase and rebuild your library within the Stadia ecosystem. However, if you pay the monthly fee, you get access to the library of games on offer for as long as you keep paying your subscription. 

On the other hand, xCloud is within the Xbox ecosystem. This means that the vast back catalogue of games that have been released on xbox can be called upon to play. However, not all the games that are within the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are available. Instead, there is a rolling list of games that are available to play on the cloud. You can see this list here. While Stadia might be competitive in the future, but when comparing current libraries, there is a long way to go to rival Microsoft’s catalogue that has been built up over many years. 

What quality can you play games at?

The two services offer different levels of streaming quality to people playing. Stadia, for example, offers 1080p at 60 frames a second for people on its free tier. If we move up to the pro level of the subscription service, the resolution available is 4k at 60 frames a second, alongside support for HDR. In the future it is also planning to implement 8K at 120 frames per second. If you are playing on a cellular connection, then you will be tied into 720p, because they don’t want to overload a mobile network.

Comparatively, Microsoft is less upfront with its performance rates. However it looks to mainly provide 1080p at 60 fps. If you are playing on an Android device, this will also be reduced to 720p at the moment.

So to answer the question, is xCloud better than Stadia? The answer will depend a lot on what you are looking for. For most gamers, the lure of the top games of the last couple decades will likely overpower all but the most performance hungry players. As investment continues to pour into the cloud gaming industry, it will be very interesting to see how the services develop into the future.