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Apple Arcade vs. Google Stadia: Which Gaming Service Will Win?

The Apple-Google rivalry just extended to a new front: gaming. Both tech giants have new gaming services on the way this fall, each with a decidedly different approach towards bringing quality titles to more people.

Credit: Apple/Google. Composite: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Apple/Google. Composite: Tom's Guide)

Google Stadia looks to ditch the physical gaming platform altogether, offering beloved blockbuster games like Doom and Assassin’s Creed that you can stream to any device with a Chrome browser and an internet connection. Apple Arcade, on the other hand, looks to bring a curated selection of iOS titles to your iPhone, Mac and Apple TV for a set monthly fee, highlighting both familiar AAA franchises as well as rising indie games.

Here’s an early look at how Apple Arcade and Google Stadia stack up.

Apple Arcade vs. Google Stadia at a glance


Apple ArcadeGoogle Stadia
PlatformsiOS, Mac, Apple TVAny device that runs Google Chrome
Game Lineup100+ indie and AAA titles, including Sonic Racing, LEGO Brawls, Rayman Mini and Oceanhorn 2.AAA games including Doom Eternal, NBA 2K and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. More TBD.
Streaming or Download?DownloadStreaming
Pricing$4.99/month (with Family Sharing) $9.99/month (Stadia Pro); Free (Stadia Base). Games sold separately.
AvailabilitySept. 19, 2019, 150+ countriesNovember 2019, U.S., UK, Europe, Canada

Game lineup

Sonic Racing. Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Sonic Racing. Credit: Apple)

Apple Arcade promises a library of 100-plus new and exclusive games, with a mix of familiar franchises and up-and-coming indie experiences. The confirmed lineup so far includes such titles as Sonic Racing, LEGO Brawls, Rayman Mini, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm and Chu Chu Rocket! Escape. Apple is also helping fund select indie studios in order to bring exclusive games to the service.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Credit: Ubisoft

(Image credit: Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Credit: Ubisoft)

Google Stadia's game lineup includes a ton of AAA heavy hitters as well as indie games. Highlights include Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Cyberpunk 2077, Destiny 2, Doom Eternal and Watch Dogs; Legion, as well as smaller titles such as Gylt and Orcs Must Die! 3.

Platforms

Google Stadia has a potentially big advantage here, as the service will theoretically be able to stream to smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and virtually any other device that can run Chrome or YouTube. At launch, the service will work with Pixel 3 and 3a smartphones, Chromecast Ultra devices and any PC with a Chrome browser, but we expect the platform to roll out more widely in 2020. 

Credit: Google

(Image credit: Google)

You can, for example, start up a game on your phone, and pick up right where you left off on your laptop. Stadia’s data centers are powered by a custom AMD GPU that promises up to 4K gameplay at 60 frames per second, and more graphical guts than even the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro (if your internet connection allows for such fidelity, of course).

MORE: I Just Played Doom on Google Stadia: Here's How It Feels

Stadia will work with most modern USB controllers (as well as keyboards and mice) when you’re playing on a PC, though Google will also offer its own gamepad called the Stadia Controller. This device pairs via Wi-Fi to ensure a smoother connection to your games in the cloud, and has dedicated buttons for capturing video for YouTube and summoning Google Assistant for game tips.

Apple Arcade games are limited to iOS, Mac and Apple TV devices, but they have one big advantage over Stadia: you can download and play them offline. This could be a boon for folks with spotty internet connections, or people who want to be able to game while in the air or on an underground subway. 

Like Stadia, Arcade also promises to let you keep your progress when you jump from one device to another. The service will also support popular Bluetooth controllers, including Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One wireless controller.

Pricing and Availability

Apple Arcade will launch on Sept. 19 for just $4.99 a month, and you'll be able to share your subscription with anyone in your household thanks to Apple's Family Sharing feature. You'll also get to try a one-month free trial of the service upon release.

Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

Stadia is currently pegged to arrive in November 2019, and will initially roll out in the U.S., UK, Canada and Europe. The platform has a few pricing options, so here's a quick breakdown.

Stadia Pro is the premium version of Stadia, which costs $9.99 per month and gets you access to 4K/60fps/HDR streaming as well as a small collection of included games (Destiny 2 is one of them) and discounts on game purchases.

In 2020, Google will release Stadia Base, which is a free version of the platform that limits you to 1080p streaming. Regardless of which version you use, however, you'll still have to buy the games separately.

If you want to go big, you can purchase the $129 Stadia Founder's Edition, which gets you a Night Blue Stadia Controller, a Chromecast Ultra, 3 months of Stadia Pro and a 3-month buddy pass for gifting Pro access to a friend.

Outlook

Apple Arcade and Google Stadia look to offer vastly different experiences for different types of gamers. Arcade seems like a more cohesive service focused on curation, as you’ll get a growing library of small but high-quality iOS titles for a low $5 per month.

Stadia, on the other hand, promises big blockbuster games on any device, so long as you’re willing to stream them from the cloud. While it packs an impressive lineup of big AAA games, its pricing structure of a subscription fee on top of individual game purchases might deter some gamers.

With its low monthly fee and robust library, Apple Arcade is the clear winner in the value department . But if you don't own a console or PC and want to play AAA games like Assassin's Creed, Doom and Watch Dogs on the devices you already own, Stadia could hold lots of appeal. While we wouldn’t call these two services competitors, we’re eager to see how they both stack up when they arrive later this year.