Review: Google Stadia
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
Google Stadia is a cloud based game streaming service. This is tech I believe in and tech I want to work and be the future. The promise of no downloads and everything looking at its best is so appealing to me. Can Stadia pull it off?
With the nature of what’s being reviewed here, I would like to discuss my hardware and internet first. I have tried Stadia on a few different devices thus far. I have tried it on an aging desktop, a gaming laptop, a Microsoft Surface, and an Android tablet. In the beginning, they all performed the same way except the tablet. As for my internet, I tried both wireless and wired (when available), with an average internet speed of 100 MB/s down, and they both performed about the same. How was that performance? Well, let's say, not consistent.
The idea of looking at a game and thinking I want to play that, clicking on that game, and playing it immediately is amazing, in theory. In practice, it's going to take some time to work out the kinks. My experience with Stadia is different each time. There have been some nights I used it and I actually forgot I was streaming. Other nights were just riddled with lag and screen tearing. Whenever I would experience any kind of issue I would check my internet speed to see if it was me or Stadia and just about every time my internet speeds were fine. The best and most consistent performance has been on my tablet. As time goes on, my experiences on my other devices seem to be making progress and getting better and better. So the future is looking good.
These technical problems are problems I can deal with. I can be optimistic that these will get figured out and be addressed, so I don't have a major problem, personally, with the performance. Sure, it can most definitely be better, but the idea and the promise of it, for me, outweigh the issues that it has. The biggest Stadia problem to me is the money. Stadia is free to use with the option to pay ten dollars a month for Stadia Pro. If you want 4K resolution then you will have to pay for Stadia Pro since the free version will cap out at 1080. Ten dollars a month is not a bad price and at that price you get some free games like you would with PlayStation plus or Xbox games with gold.
My problem is if a new game comes out, and you want to play it on Stadia, you need to pay full price for the ability to stream it. I am in the camp that believes game prices need to be higher so it's not the price that gets me, its the fact that you're buying it on a cloud platform and streaming it. I get all my games digitally, whether it be console or PC, so I’m used to not having a physical disk. My concern is if I buy Assassin’s Creed on my console, I can download it and play it at any time. If that console maker stops making the console, I still have it downloaded and can play it. If I pay the same amount of money on Stadia, and then if Google decides to say “we tried but Stadia didn’t work we are shutting it down on X date”, well, goodbye all my games on Stadia. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Google to just announce one of there platforms is ending. There is even a website dedicated to everything of theirs that they killed. With the negative press and reviews Stadia has been getting since its launch, it would not be a shock to me if they went that route with Stadia too. The reality of something to this extreme I would consider to be rare. The more probable path would be for Google to roll Stadia up into another one of its services instead. To me, that unknown is always going to be there and I often second guess buying games on the platform. I have been paying my ten dollars a month and playing the pro games and only the pro games and really enjoying my experience, so much that I started to buy other games. I purchased Marvel’s Avengers on Stadia and that is where my review will be from. The idea of playing on my tablet anywhere in the house was the seller for me and I’m really starting to understand the promise. It tracks your gameplay well with achievements and time played which made things easy for me to know how long it took for certain activities.
The game catalog is lacking when compared to every other platform. Not all games come to Stadia on its launch day and not all games patches and DLCs are up to date with other platforms. It seems like a big misstep to me to not go hard to get everything day and date.
Just for signing up for Stadia Pro you do get a decent catalog of "Pro" games. As long as you stay subscribed to pro, you can play these games at any time. Couple this with the first month being free, it's easy to sign up for Stadia and try it out to see if it works for you, all at no cost.
When I think of the future of gaming, I do think of what Stadia is offering. I am confident Google can figure out the technical problems and get it working great, I am just lacking confidence that Google will stick it out if it continues to have poor reception. Verdict
To me, streaming is the future, but is that future Stadia? That I don't know. In its current state, Stadia can be inconsistent and lacks a full game catalog to replace a console or pc and also has a store that I don’t fully understand. I remain hopeful and will continue to use Stadia. Stadia offers a free one month pro subscription. I highly recommend checking this out. You will get all the available pro games and can try the service for yourself. As for me, I will remain hopeful. Final Score —7/10–
For more reviews, be sure to check out my thoughts on Super Mario 35, Vigor, My Friend Pedro and my new podcast: Game Bites, the latest entry in The Spinchoon Podcast Network (check out Flix & a Six here). As always, check us out on Twitter @TheSpinchoonand I’m @Big_Broons.