Everyone loves videogames. Everyone loves streaming. And with those two things in mind, the best-known search engine in the world pulled a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups move and combined the two. What we, the gamers who love streaming get out of it, is a whole new gaming platform called Stadia.
But with so many ways to play games already, does the Stadia stand out, or will it sink into the footnotes of video game history like the Lynx, the OUYA, and the 3DO? Only time will tell for sure, but we can look at what we know already and get a clue or two.
With the announcement of the Stadia, Google made quite a few promises that excited gamers. This is nothing new – every launch comes with high expectations and rarely does a launch live up to those expectations. Sometimes the disappointment comes from our own inability to keep our hopes based in reality, but sometimes it’s because the system is missing things we were promised.
With the Stadia, it looks like the latter may be at play.
Is It Netflix For Games?
Some people seem a little confused by this, so I want to get it out of the way right now. Stadia is not a Netflix for games. Where, with Netflix, you pay a monthly fee and get all their movies, that is not how Stadia works. You still have to pay for the games you want to play on Stadia. Now, with that out of the way, how about we look at what Stadia gives you, and what it’s missing…
Stadia lets you stream games in 4k on your PC or TV (with the use of a Chromcast Ultra – more on that below). Just got home and want to play Red Dead Redemption 2, but you don’t have it loaded to your Xbox One, PS4, or PC? No worries! You won’t have to sit around and wait who knows how long with Stadia, just select the game and start playing!
This is where things get… messy.
Stream Connect, State Share, and Crowd Play are all MIA at launch. Each of these are major parts of the Stadia’s multiplayer platform, and not having them turns the Stadia into little more than a new way to handle remote play. Andrey Doronichev, Stadia’s director of product, gave an idea of when these features will be showing up, saying that Stream Connect should be available by the end of the year, with State Share and Crowd Play coming sometime next year.
The Achievement system is also missing. Well… it isn’t missing, but you won’t know it’s there just yet. The Stadia will record what achievements you’ve completed in your games, but it won’t notify you and you can’t look them up just yet. Google expects to have that all set up shortly after launch.
Family Sharing is also unavailable at this time. This would allow you to share games with other accounts in your house and was one of the bigger selling points of Stadia. Sadly, we won’t be seeing it until early next year.
The Buddy Pass is also delayed, so if you and a good pal had both went halfsies on the $129.99 Founders Edition with the idea of using the Buddy Pass to make sure you both could play… someone is about to be really bummed. The Buddy Pass would allow a Founders Edition owner to give a friend three months of Stadia for free, but now it has been delayed. According to Beri Lee – who works on Stadia’s publishing – the Buddy Pass will be sent out “about two weeks after you receive your bundle, barring some unknown unknowns popping up”.
If you didn’t get the Founders Edition but did buy a Stadia controller for $69, then you’re gonna be kind of upset. The Stadia controller currently only works with the Chromecast Ultras that come with the Founders Edition. This is something Google plans on fixing shortly after launch.
Waiting for that Chromecast Ultra update may not be so rough though, because it could happen before your controller shows up. Some Stadia early adopters are saying that they have been informed that it’ll be a few days or weeks before their Stadia controller is delivered.
What Can You Play?
OK, you have your Stadia all loaded up and ready to go. Sure, you may not have a controller, but this is a PC based system, so that isn’t a huge disaster, right? You can still play on your PC, phone, or tablet and use the keyboard and mouse or a different controller with a USB cable.
Usually, when a new console or gaming system launches, there aren’t many games available on day one. We like to get upset with the announcements of the launch day games, saying there aren’t enough, but the number is usually pretty much the same.
To compare, the PS4 launched with 26 games, the Xbox One had 20 games, and the Switch had 13games. The Stadia will be launching with a solid 22 games.
What’s missing is the big new game. Usually, with a launch, you want some kind of big exclusive to get gamers excited. The PS4 had Killzone Shadow Fall, Xbox One had Forza Motorsport 5, and the Switch had The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Stadia has… nothing.
The Stadia’s exclusive game is Gylt, an indie horror title that at this time has been met with mixed reviews. To be fair to Gylt, most launch titles are met with mixed reviews. Being first out of the gate comes with drawbacks in the gaming world.
But what other games are there? There’s a full list at the end of this here article! Yay!
Do You Want To Play?
So now comes the big question… is Google Stadia worth it?
So far, reviews are mixed. A look at the reviews on Metacritic shows that there’s lots of love for Stadia, but lots of “meh” and “arg” as well. Even in the Destructoid review, listed as a positive review, isn’t gleaming, ending with “Stadia needs to ramp up now, not later. “It works” isn’t a competitive edge”.
So, is the Stadia worth it? I’ve got to say, it doesn’t sound like it. Buying the Founders Edition or the monthly subscription doesn’t make the games any cheaper. With the missing features, it’s hard to say the $130 for the Founders Edition is worth the price at the moment. And while you can get Stadia for $9 a month, there’s also a free version coming next year.
So, overall, what are you paying for at the moment? If you’re the kind of person who is an early adopter, you probably already have at least one console or a good PC for gaming. There isn’t much that the Stadia seems to give you to make it worth the price.
As promised, here is the list of games available on Stadia as of today. More games will be coming soon!
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
- Destiny 2
- Farming Simulator 2019
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Grid 2019
- Just Dance 2020
- Metro Exodus
- Mortal Kombat 11
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Samurai Shodown
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Tomb Raider
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood