Although I wrote this article a year ago, we’ve already seen Google Stadia cracking under pressure. I decided to update this article with even more controversy.
Recently, Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director of Google Stadia posted a tweet below:
Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.
— Alex Hutchinson (@BangBangClick) October 22, 2020
This has gotten so much backlash that Google themselves have distanced themselves from Alex. It’s only a matter of time before some kind of PR action will take place.
The gaming industry has grown tremendously over the last few years, with games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and more garnering millions of players around the world.
What’s even more amazing is the technology that is growing with it.
As the world is moving into a cloud-first model, gaming is joining such movement.
One of these services is Google Stadia.
Ok, so what is it firstly?
You’ve heard of Netflix, right?
Instead of streaming TV shows, however, you’re streaming games that you can play yourself.
But how does that work?
Google Stadia is basically a cloud gaming service where you use your own screen but with Google’s own server handling the rest.
This means all the processing power that is needed is all taken care of and realistically, all you need is a stable internet connection. This means you don’t need a high specs computer with the latest graphics cards and software to play high-end games at the best quality.
This type of ‘new gaming platform’ hasn’t been kept in the dark.
Late last year, Google offered a closed beta test for “Project Stream” and at the GDC 2019, where they revealed full playable demos on the show floor.
With much hype around the launch, people were super excited about this launch as it could revolutionize how gaming is played out.
But why was it a mess?
With its launch on November 19th, there was a lot of anticipation.
There were many that were definitely impressed with the technology and it did work…sort of.
Unfortunately, there were equally many who were disappointed with the initial platform with many citing quality issues, lackluster game selection and a range of other technical capabilities that were missing.
To boot, their pricing model was all over the place.
Today, Stadia is a $130 one-time purchase, plus $10 a month (after a three-month trial), plus $20 to $60 per premium game. Many believe that this pricing model is not competitive and have concerns about how Google Stadia is being priced.
Biggest Problem: Quality Issues
With the launch, Google initially promised 4K quality games at 60FPS.
Sounding too good to be true maybe the actual statement here.
On release, big titles like Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 had a lackluster performance with game developer Bungie confirming this directly.
Even ironically, Google Stadia posted a tweet promising 4K quality at 60FPS for RDD2 but they have since deleted the tweet.
Many went online to vent their frustrations with one user comparing the quality to the Xbox One X console.
The unfortunate mess was they promised games at a certain quality. If Google had simply stated that this was an initial pilot with lower quality games to start, there might have been less backlash.
Unfortunately, Google is receiving major criticism for not meeting certain statements that they have since deleted.
Lack of Games And Much More
With an initial library of only 12 games, (since then they have added 10 more titles) it feels almost unambitious that Google would not load more onto their platform.
If you think about other cloud streaming platforms out there, having a wide selection of content to view and play would be valuable, especially for those paying for the hardware and a monthly subscription.
Here’s an additional list of things that Google previously showed off or have hinted that aren’t in the original release.
- Connect wireless headphones with the Stadia controller
- Fully wireless gameplay with the Stadia controller on PC and phone
- Any original first-party games from Google’s own studios (Yes their own studio)
- Stream Connect, State Share, and Crowd Play
- Most of Google Assistant’s functionality
This list is just a part of what’s not currently available and there is more that isn’t mentioned. There is also limited smartphone capability, one of the selling points of being able to game through a cloud service like Google Stadia.
Tough Competition Coming In
This mess, unfortunately, comes with more problems.
Google is not the only one investing money into this part of the industry, with big companies like Microsoft and Amazon also looking into this space.
Microsoft especially has had a footprint in the gaming industry with Xbox since the 2000s. Their own platform called ‘XCloud’ is already getting good reviews within its private beta.
One of the most important parts of their platform is it’s focusing on the developer. Developers and publishers don’t have to do anything to get their games onto Microsoft’s new platform.
Just a simple agreement is all they need.
The most important part of it all, Xbox has already thousands of games ready to go live from their history (including exclusive titles). To add, their pricing model is much more straightforward and quite competitive, with an estimate of $10 — $15 monthly costing.
It’s obvious to see that Microsoft already has quite an advantage of Google Stadia with its slicker pricing + content.
As long as they nail quality and features, it looks quite promising.
Can Google Compete then?
Well, of course, it is Google after all.
Right now, they have first mover’s advantage (among the tech giants) in a soon to be crowded marketplace.
It’s an unfortunate mess currently but Google Stadia has its positives.
Firstly, it does actually work albeit with its hiccups.
Most importantly, it is compatible with most displays and controllers which does show promise moving forward.
It’s only a matter of time before others start moving into a public release so Google will need to move quickly to address its issues.