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

The Apple-Google rivalry just extended to a new front: gaming. Both tech giants recently unveiled their own gaming services, 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.

We still don’t have all of the details on Apple Arcade or Google Stadia, but here’s an early look at how these two gaming services 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 and Oceanhorn 2.AAA games including Doom Eternal, NBA 2K and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. More TBD.
Streaming or Download?DownloadStreaming
PricingTBD monthly feeTBD
AvailabilityFall 2019, 150+ countries2019, 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, The Artful Escape, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm and Beyond a Steel Sky. 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)

Much of Google Stadia’s game lineup is still a mystery, but we do know that Bethesda’s highly anticipated shooter Doom Eternal is coming to the service. We’ve also seen titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Doom (2016) and NBA 2K demoed on the platform during GDC 2019, so it’s safe to assume that those titles will show up on Stadia as well. Google will also be publishing its own original games to the service via its Stadia Games & Entertainment brand.

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.

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.

At WWDC 2019, Apple revealed that you'll be able to use PS4 and Xbox One controllers for Apple Arcade games.

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.

Pricing and Availability

Apple Arcade is slated to launch this fall in more than 150 countries. While we don’t have a final price just yet, Apple says that the entire game library will be offered for a single monthly fee and that you’ll be able to share your subscription with your household via Apple’s Family Sharing feature.

Credit: Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

Stadia is currently pegged to arrive sometime in 2019, and will initially roll out in the U.S., UK, Canada and Europe. The service’s pricing structure is still a mystery — we don’t yet know if there will be a single recurring fee, or if you’ll have to buy games on an a la carte basis.

Outlook

Based on what we know now, 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 set monthly fee.

Stadia, on the other hand, promises big blockbuster games on any device, so long as you’re willing to stream them from the cloud. It has the potential to pose a serious threat to console and PC gaming, but a lot of its success will depend on its game library, pricing structure, and how well it holds up on various types of internet connections once its out in the wild.

Stadia currently seems like the more ambitious service, while Apple Arcade seems like a smart way to get quality iOS games into the hands of more gamers for a reasonable price. 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.