Google, who up to this point has had little interest in the gaming world, surprised everyone by announcing they were jumping in head-first with a new Cloud Gaming service called Stadia.
They promised 4K 60fps gaming that was not reliant on an expensive console or PC to play on. “Gaming for the masses” you might say.
By using their global infrastructure of data centers, packed with high powered servers, they could run the game and stream the video to you anywhere. Surely if anyone can do it it’s Google, right?
The reality turned out to be very different.
The downfall has been the apparent lack of anyone even remotely connected to the gaming space advising them. Bizzare product decisions, on-top of numerous technical and logistical disasters have left the community of early adopters frustrated.
I had the Founder’s Edition Pre-Ordered. This was a premium product that cost €129. In the box, you get a Stadia controller, a Chrome Cast Ultra and a 3-month sub to Stadia Pro. On launch day I couldn’t play because I was missing my access code. Google, the company that owns Gmail couldn’t organize a batch of emails.
Three days later I had my code, but there was no sign of the Chrome Cast or controller. That took another three days (and I was one of the lucky ones).
After a long week, I could finally sit down and play…..but the Bungie servers were offline!! While this was out of the hands of Google it does highlight the risks with a Cloud service. Everything has to work perfectly all the time.
After a week with Stadia and being €129 lighter in the pocket, I had zero games played.
Once up and running my first impressions of Destiny 2 were very positive. It played really well. On my 150mb fiber to the home broadband package I had no issues. Gameplay was smooth, graphics generally held together and the whole experience was enjoyable.
The controller was light and responsive, it feels like its own thing. A new controller rather than a cheap knock off.
But I’ve played Destiny 2 already. It was good to test the service, but without any friends playing with me I couldn’t see the point. So I looked at what other games were available and at this point, I realized Stadia’s biggest downfall. I have no games to play on it!!
Many had hoped that game streaming would mirror TV and Movie streaming and this would become a “Netflix for Games”. But instead, Google opted for the Stadia store where you have a small selection of older titles that you can purchase for roughly two to three times more than on other platforms.
For example, I can buy Red Dead Redemption 2 or Borderlands 3 on PS4 for €25. Red Dead is €59.99 (€47.99 with Pro discount) and Borderlands is €59.99 (€38.99 with Pro discount).
This is the biggest issue. There is no incentive to buy any games on Stadia. I either already own them on other platforms or have little interest in them. I would probably rebuy a few just for giggles if the price was more favorable.
Now over the last three months, Google has added more free games to the Pro library. I have six in total so it is growing all the time. But look at the competition. Sony’s PS Now has a massive Netflix style library that you can stream, and many of the games you can download to mitigate any internet issues. Microsoft are about to enter the market with Project X, which once linked to GamePass will again offer a huge library of games.
At a premium price, the experience should be better. On it’s best day Stadia is only on par with my PS4 Pro, Xbox One X or PC. On its worst day, it is not playable at all.
Overall: When Stadia works it is great. The tech is absolutely amazing and the gameplay experience is good. I can play a high-end game on a browser which is impressive, but why would I choose that?
The dream for Cloud gaming is to be able to play anywhere. I can’t play out and about on a mobile device, as currently only the Pixel devices are supported. Buying one of those ruins the whole notion of not needing to buy expensive hardware. I can’t even play anywhere in my own home as I need to be wired into the internet to get a stable connection.
What I can do is sit here and get a good experience on the same TV my PC, PS4 and Xbox are plugged into. Those devices perform better, don’t need to be online all the time, and the games are substantially cheaper.
I don’t know who this is aimed at. The Pro subscription is a premium product. If you consider a Founder’s Edition was €129 and a Pro Sub for 12 months @€9.99 a month, over three years it will cost you over €500. That is a lot of money to spend for someone who is not into gaming enough to already own a console or PC.
They would be much better off getting a PS4 or Xbox One along with a PS+ or Gamepass subscription.
I do think it will find its base when the “free to stream” 1080p version launches. I’m sure at this point the economics of it will make more sense especially for those who don’t want to buy a console.
For me, the lure of some new tech to play with was enough to purchase Stadia. It was a curiosity, but it has since faded. My Pro membership has already been canceled and once Microsoft launch Project X I can’t imagine I’ll ever be back to Stadia.Please Join us on your Social Platform of choice