Google Stadia is now available to the masses, with a couple of asterisks. While game streaming may be beckoning the future of hardware-less gaming, it may not quite be time for it just yet. Google Stadia is a neat concept, but it appears that the internet hasn't had the hottest opinions of it so far, though not necessarily due to the service itself, but the selection of games and general befuddlement of who Stadia is actually meant to be for. Though not everyone that pre-ordered will be getting Stadia at launch, at least fans don't have much longer before they can form their own opinions.
Kotaku (Paul Tamayo)
"Outside of the ability to stream games on a browser or your phone, I really can’t find a strong selling point for playing games that you can largely get on other platforms already for around the same price. Stadia’s for tech-savvy people, but it’s likely they already own an easier way to play these games."
The Verge (Sean Hollister)
"There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now. Google has made sure of that, partly by underdelivering at launch and partly with a pricing scheme that sees you paying three times (for hardware, for the service, for games) just to be an early adopter.
But the nice thing is that no one’s forcing you to, either. Early adopters know who they are, and they’ll hopefully be subsidizing a better experience for the rest of us while helping Google work out the kinks. The technology works reasonably well, and Google’s gadgets can all be automatically updated over the air."
PC Gamer (Joanna Nelius)
"Stadia is a great innovation, nearly free from the hardware needs that bind our gaming PCs to our bedrooms and far more portable than a PS4. But since it relies heavily on the internet to deliver a good experience, it's only as good as the internet in your home, and when it doesn't work perfectly, figuring out why can take even more technical savvy than building the best gaming PC. Stadia's launch is simply missing many of the features it needs to be a robust gaming platform."
Forbes (Paul Tassi)
"Across all test titles I played, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat 11, Destiny 2, GYLT and Red Dead Redemption 2, I would get periodic stuttering issues with massive resolution and frame drops. Not all the time, but enough to be noticed frequently and disrupt gameplay, which is what everyone feared may happen with this kind of tech. The intensity of the game didn’t matter, it could be the graphically rich Red Dead or the cartoony GYLT. Single player or multiplayer didn’t matter, I could be playing solo as Lara Croft or playing Destiny 2’s Gambit in a pre-arranged match, the issues were the same. You could have 80% of a session be going fine, but then the last 20% would suddenly lurch you into dropping, stuttering territory. And in most games, all it takes is one hiccup to make you pay dearly."
It's disappointing to see Stadia have such a rough launch out of the gate. The service itself seems interesting enough - instantly loading into any game is something players have been dreaming of since the launch of this console generation. However, the apparent latency issues had been on everyone's mind since before launch, it's a bit of a shame that Google hasn't been able to shake them out. There are, however, massive differences in internet speeds across the world, so it was pretty much bound to happen to at least some people. At least Stadia expanded its launch lineup just before release, avoiding one major issue.
There are other major issues facing Stadia too. Stadia still has no answer for data caps, and that's a huge problem. One can only hope that the service is updated over time, making it at least somewhat feasible to those that have a vested interest in it. The concept itself is fine, but there are certainly quite a few kinks to be worked out before it's really ready for the masses.
Stadia is launching without some of the key features fans were hoping for, but at least those will be added at a later date. Until then, most of those interested in the service still have their consoles and PCs to play on, though that's apparently not entirely a bad thing. Time will tell if Stadia turns into a service worth using, but at least Google has an early framework to work with for the next phase of the streaming wars. At least until Disney decides it wants a better presence in the gaming market, too.
Google Stadia is will launch on Tuesday, November 19th.