Google Stadia vs Apple Arcade vs Microsoft Project xCloud: Your phone is your next gaming console

Google Stadia vs Apple Arcade vs Microsoft Project xCloud: Your phone is your next gaming console
Games on both the App and Play Store are dime a dozen, with seemingly more than enough variety to keep just about anyone happy. However, the vast majority of mobile games are hollow, purpose-less cashgrabs that lack the polish, depth, gameplay, and storytelling of triple-A titles for the dedicated gaming consoles and PC, and that's a fact. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, a mobile game is unlikely to keep you occupied for long. 

Fortunately, with the recent announcements of Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, and Microsoft's Project xCloud, the mobile gaming experience is very likely to go through a true renaissance. Two of these services are bringing the joys of triple-A gaming on our smartphones thanks to streaming, whereas the last one takes a very different approach that will hopefully yield similar results...

How would the two gaming services differ, and how will they look forward to changing mobile gaming? Let's look into this! 

Google Stadia




Pricing: Stadia Pro - $9.99, up to 4K/60fps; Stadia Base - free, buy your own games 
Technical requirements: 35Mbps Internet connection for 4K HDR/60fps streaming; desktops, laptops, tablets, phones (exclusive to the Pixel series at launch) capable of running a Chromium browser
Launching: Stadia Pro - fall 2019; Stadia Base - 2020

The search giant announced it will be jumping straight into the cloud-gaming space with its rather ambitious Stadia service, which is coming sometime in late 2019 with an undisclosed price tag and catalogue. 

Basically, Stadia offloads the whole processing power to Google's ample servers and lets you stream it to just about any device in your home that can run the Chrome browser, including smart TVs. Moreover, you don't need to do download anything, just tap play and in a matter of seconds, you'll be playing the game you've been dreaming of on your choosing platform. Since the game runs on hardware from Google's data centers, you don't need a powerful device to play games, just a stable internet connection. As far as performance goes, Google promises performance of up to 10.7 GPU teraflops, which is more than the Xbox One X's 6 teraflops and the PlayStation 4 Pro's 4.2 teraflops combined. 

Stadia is meant to bring games that are now restricted to owners of powerful PCs or consoles to a much wider audience, and we're not talking just about phone users. Google promises its service will be able to stream games in 4K, 60fps and HDR color at launch, but it's said that Stadia will be able to scale up to 8K and 120FPS in the future. 

But Stadia is not only a streaming service - it's more of a decentralized platform. This means you can't really play any game you like, but only the ones that Stadia supports. 

Along with Stadia's big reveal, Google announced its own controller for the game streaming service. You wouldn't have to necessarily buy the Google Stadia controller, but it will greatly help with the states that its wireless controller will connect directly to its data center and run the game on the display you choose. Also, it comes with a dedicated sharing button that allows you to capture screenshots during your gameplay sessions, and a Google Assistant button that will allow you to access the handy assistant. Google says that thanks to the controller, you will be able to jump into your game in less than 5 seconds, with no loading, authentication, or lengthy-syncing between you and the gameplay.

While you will be able to have Stadia up and running on any hardware that can run the Chrome and has access to high-speed Internet, the latter will be the final limiting factor between you and your lag-free gameplay. In case your Internet connection is far from fast and stable, streamed gameplay video will quickly deteriorate. Google says that Stadia is smart enough to know when your connection is getting antsy and will automatically lower the quality of the streaming video as fast and as low as possible to ensure that you're still getting enough gameplay information your way. Provided that the worst happens, i.e. your connection drops, Stadia will wait for a few minutes for you to reconnect, and if this doesn't happen, you will be rolled back to your last checkpoint once your Internet is up and running again.

Probably the biggest issue with Stadia right now is Google's reluctance to roll the service out to a larger swath of mobile devices. Yes, at launch it will only be available to the Pixel 3/Pixel 3a series despite that most other Android flagships share the same internal hardware as Google's top-shelf devices. Hopefully, Stadia won't remain a Pixel-exclusive for long. 

Apple Arcade




Pricing: n/a
Technical requirements: iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple TV
Launching: fall 2019

Apple Arcade was announced at the "It's Showtime" event on March 25 alongside Apple News+ and Apple TV+. Apple Arcade will live as a new, separate tab within the App Store, and consist of more than a hundred expertly-curated games that will be exclusive to the Apple Arcade service. Once the service goes live, new games will be continuously added to the mix so as to scratch that gaming itch of yours. You will have to pay a monthly fee but will also be able to play any Apple Arcade game for as long as you want and on whatever Apple device you want, be it iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or a Mac. 

Some of the high-profile developer that will be developing games for Apple Arcade are Konami, SEGA, Disney Studios, LEGO, Cartoon Network, Devolver Digital, Gallium, Sumo Digital, Klei Studios (Don't Starve, Oxygen Not Included), Finji (Night in the Woods), Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Giant Squid, Mistwalker Corporation, Snowman, ustwo games and many, many others. Definitely an A+ selection of game makers that will most certainly define the Q back in Quality as far as gaming goes. 

All Apple Arcade games will naturally be perfectly-optimized to be played on Apple's hardware and will feature similar and intuitive gameplay mechanics and interface. This would be one of Arcade's stronger cases against Google Stadia - all the games will be developed from the ground up for Apple's iOS/macOS systems and will be rather intuitive to play on all platforms. 

Fortunately, the teasers for all the games that will be available on Apple Arcade look quite varied and intriguing and are a far cry from your regular "indie walking simulator". Not that the latter are bad or anything, but a fledgling service like Apple Arcade surely needs variety so as to appeal to the widest possible potential public. 

However, with all Apple Arcade games being exclusives, none of the AAA games that are on the verge of their popularity on PC and console right now will ever come to Apple Arcade. 

Microsoft Project xCloud




Pricing: n/a
Technical requirements: Xbox console
Launching: October 2019

Microsoft's game-streaming service, codenamed xCloud, will let you stream any Xbox game through the Azure cloud servers. xCloud isn't as ambitious of a service as Google Stadia is, and it is really all about one thing - streaming. When you're out and about, xCloud will be using tons of Xbox One X motherboards to process and stream those Xbox games you own on a portable device you have on you; when you're home and still willing to stream, xCloud will delegate the processing task to your own Xbox console and not the cloud, still allowing you to stream your favorite games no matter where you're in your home.

This is a very straightforward and easy to grasp concept that looks a bit less innovative than Stadia, but it's that simplicity that makes it that much more feasible and likely to succeed in the long run.

So far, few technical details about xCloud have been revealed, but it's already clear that you will be able to use it on a much wider selection of mobile devices than Google Stadia at launch. At E3 2019, xCloud was demoed on Galaxy devices, but it will most certainly be available on other devices. What about iPhones? Remains to be seen.

 Aside from using your dedicated Xbox One controller, you will also be able to control your games with the on-screen controls overlay that Microsoft has developed. xCloud will dynamically adjust the framerate and resolution of your games depending on the strength of your Internet connection. 

At launch, xCloud will let you play nearly 3,500 games.

FEATURED VIDEO

24 Comments

1. IT-Engineer

Posts: 566; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Apple arcade should not be mentioned, it is not cloud streaming and most importantly it is not cross platform!! You just want to put apple in everything, grow up you people.

3. BLUEBLASTER

Posts: 941; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

Agreed you cannot compare Apple's overpriced crap. Apple wont have anywhere near the quality of games like Xbox and Google.

4. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

But with all due respect, only apple will likely succeed, trend and streamlined. This is one good thing being at apple ecosystem. Apple is providing us alternative services that offers quality and premium services.

7. IT-Engineer

Posts: 566; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Your kidding right? Sony signed a contract with Microsoft to help them build cloud streaming gaming, and this is Sony that was building Consoles when back in the 90's when Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy, and you think Apple who is a newbie in Cloud services will build a better platform than Sony, Microsoft and Google? Man you Apple cult members need to open your eyes!

20. oldskool50 unregistered

His eyes are open, but he isn't smart enough to comprehend what he is seeing. Apple could potentially have the most popular services, seeing as it would be made for IOs users specifically. But Microosft and Google could have more users do to cross-platform capability.

9. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

With all due respect Apple's arcade game platform will not have the processing power of the others, especially since NOT one iPhone is even at 1 teraflops of computing power, all iPhones still operate in the gigaflops range. Plus all Apple arcade titles must support single player, and support offline play. So it's really glorified iOS games pretending to give you a AAA title and experience.

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I should also add that all the processing for the others will happen back on the cloud servers, and not on the device you are currently playing on. Apple's arcade games must work offline, so they are games and titles that are download on the Apple device that you will be using. Plus they all must support single player, and work offline. No iPhone or Apple TV right now even supports 1 teraflop of computing power. Whereas the others are going to have beefy gaming servers, where all the computing actually occurs on their end. And only the final display is sent over to you, the same occurs for input where that is sent back to the same servers your game is running on. I actually don't understand how PhoneArena can actually think that these are comparable platforms, especially when they are completely different.

21. oldskool50 unregistered

Can you read? Xcloud will give smartphone users the ability to stream Xbox One games to their phone. When you consider the following facts: 1st - Android phones starting with the S6 and higher, all have faster modems than any iPhone released during this same time period. That means we will have more bandwidth available to stream heavy games. iPhone didn't allow for dual data streaming over wifi and 4G at the same time until the iPhone 7, while Android phones could do this even before the S5. 2nd - Many games on Xbox One are at least above 1080p and many are 4K, which means with top end Android phones having QHD+ screen, we will have more detail vs any iPhone as every iPhone has less resolution. 3rd - Android phones have more RAM, allowing them to store more data in memory, which the iPhone won't be able to do. This could cause streaming game on iPhone in particular to constantly not be able to keep up. 4th - Android phones support HDR/HDR10+/Dolby ATMOS Sound and more to bring premium video and sound quality that is cinema-like. Which iPhone support HDR10+? I don't think any of them do. 5th - Also, many Android are at least Octacore models, where now all 8 cores can be driven up to higher clocks when needed. And the iPhone SoC tends to be clocked slower than may Android phones. So what premium experience are you talking about? When other phones are capable of better quality video, sound, memory management and more; how the hell can you claim the iPhone will give the best experience? You are just lying to yourself troll. How can you even make such a delusional claim? When you stream a game, the service will be fully dependent on the capability of your phone. How the hell you think an iPhone with less everything vs the Galaxy S or Note as examples, will have a more premium offering over Android. You must be smoking that good shizzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!!!! You should share whatever you are smoking with the rest of us, because you are totally out of your mind. Apple does not offer any service that is better than anyone else. Not one. Not Maps, not music, not video, not email, not nothing.

24. Mike88

Posts: 437; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

That capability is already available on iPhones and iPads,, one can easily stream all their Playstation games on their ios devices even when they are far away from home thanks to Sony for bringing this capability on ios rather than Android coz they know which devices are better but people still prefer playing on their big TV screen,, do you think cloud gaming will change the way people play games?? How do you android supporters see every sane person as a smoker? Sanity isn't equivalent to smoking lol

19. oldskool50 unregistered

Well they could be as good as Google, but not even close to Microsoft. When you consider Android has more powerful phones with more storage, ram and battery; games will simply be better on Android via Microsoft. I can't wait.

23. mackan84

Posts: 555; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Shouldn’t you just make your own webpage? Secondly it’s a 5-6 inch touch-control-display to play Xbox games on! At least apples arcade is made for such a tiny display, either way both are nothing compared to playing AAA on a tv with a controller. On the go? Xbox/ps4 controller with iPad is a better choice. Both google and MS will release their platform there I’ll bet. And I find it hilarious that you think this will be 4K-hdr10plus-mumbojumbo on a phone... I’ll save that comment for release ;)

5. ph00ny

Posts: 2055; Member since: May 26, 2011

i don't think they understand what xbox and stadia really is.

6. IT-Engineer

Posts: 566; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Im beginning to think so, these writers don't do their homework before publishing

17. whatev

Posts: 2332; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Lmao, you’re so funny with your tantrum :))))

18. Mike88

Posts: 437; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

There's a reason why people prefer offline gaming over online gaming,, even some people put their phone on flight mode while gaming and the success of offline consoles like Playstation can't be ignored... Playstation will remain the best console (Xbox for many) and Apple arcade will beat all cloud gaming services.

22. oldskool50 unregistered

Apple is goign to beat companies like Microsoft who have been making video games for consoles and PC's for nearly 50 years? What the hell are you and PeaceBoy smoking????? You guys must be the "dubbie" brothers.

2. AlienKiss

Posts: 203; Member since: May 21, 2019

I'd be more interested if games these days would be less violent. Im mean I understand : you like to shoot things, but at a certain point it becomes so, so boring.. I like creative games, where you build things, not destroy them or kill others. Oh, and how come aliens are always the bad guys? I bet in reality things are the other way around. This is called xenophobia and games are encouraging it. Make peace, not war!

8. civicsr2cool

Posts: 273; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

"This is called xenophobia and games are encouraging it." "Make peace, not war!" Sounds like communist propaganda to me! If you want peace, prepare for war.

15. MrHate

Posts: 318; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

What kind of comment is this even supposed to be? Nobody forces you to play these kind of games if you don't like them. There are tons of games with minimal or no violence that you can get instead. Why complain?

11. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

I have seen the future - it's laggy and compressed beyond acceptable.

12. TBomb

Posts: 1572; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Look how far games have come since Pong. just because there was some lag today, doesn't mean there is lag tomorrow. for a technology to progress and become better it must be adopted. the world needs less complainers

16. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Less than 10 years ago, there was no LTE, and there was no 4G, or 5G that we are starting to see. Back then we were lucky to see 3G speeds. Which were pathic even back then. Some smartphones today offer 2 gigabit speeds, and with 5G you will see 20 gigabit speeds. Then there is the home internet that has also come a long way. Back then in my area I couldn't get a half a megabit in speed. Now land Internet access can reach gigabit and more, depending on where you live. Plus some internet service providers offer you unlimited traffic.

13. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1438; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Or maybe you need a better internet connection

14. TBomb

Posts: 1572; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Personally, I'm excited for Stadia, xCloud, etc. If they take off, we can start to see some huge leaps in computing. Games would become more portable, bringing them to new environments. Imagine having better games in the seatback on an airplane for long-haul flights....

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.