I remember the intrigue I felt when I first heard the concept of Goggle Stadia, games streamed from the cloud with no downloads and no need for expensive hardware.
There was a real buzz felt by many that for one reason or another as more and more time passed really started to dissipate, was this because we as consumers had convinced ourselves for whatever reason that Stadia was going to be the Netflix of games and subsequently lost interest when we found out it wasn’t or was it because the behemoth that is Google did a really terrible job of marketing what would be their real first foray into the gaming system market?
Since the launch back in November 2019, there has been a lot of negativity around Stadia from people outside of the community with the mere mention of it on anything game related met with scorn and to some level contempt, this is not helped with some of the big game-related sites hardly touching upon the product and often mentioning it as an afterthought.
I, myself was very negative towards Stadia after purchasing it back in February and even tried to get a refund on it back in April 2020 with no success but as time has gone on the product has ingratiated itself upon me and I’m so glad I was unable to return it when I tried, here I will go through what I feel are the pro’s and con’s of Stadia to show why this negativity may not really be warranted.
- No downloads
I think the bane of every gamers life now is regardless of if you buy a digital or physical copy of a game the first thing you have to do before you can play it is download it, now I don’t want to speak out of turn here but I can with high confidence say that I speak for most people when I say that we all miss getting a new game, putting the CD or cartridge or whatever in and the game just loads up, well thanks to Stadia we can get back to them good old days. Once you buy a game on Stadia you literally just click the play button and there it is, no long download, you are straight into the game, for some, it might just be a trivial thing but this is something that is a big selling point and luckily Google has finally started pushing it for that reason (no idea why it’s taken them nearly a year). The best example of why this is a good thing will be evident when Cyberpunk 2077 is released on the 19th November, it is being released across all platforms on the same day and the first people that are going to get to the play it is the stadia community, granted this may only be 30 mins to an hour before everyone else but in a time when people really lack patience, that time will mean so much.
- Play anywhere
There are pictures online of people playing Stadia on their fridges, now I know that doesn’t mean every fridge in existence will allow you to play games, realistically it’s probably like 1–2% of fridges on the market that can but still it’s the best example that if your device is capable and you have the internet then you can play some of the latest games available where ever you are.
Stadia also introduced Touch Controls for Android phones, this basically means that once you’ve downloaded the app and loaded your game then you get a controller overlay allowing you to play the game directly on your phone, now I get this technology isn’t new as far as mobile gaming goes but let’s be real here you aren’t downloading games like Destiny 2 or Red Dead Redemption from the app store anytime soon and playing it in this way.
- No need for expensive hardware to play the latest games
The biggest benefit console players have had over PC gamers is that to play the most recent games they don’t need to constantly update their systems until of course, it comes to the next generation which for current-gen has been something like 7 years, now imagine being able to play all the most recent games and not even needing to give a second thought about getting a next-gen machine, well that is Stadia. Games are run off Google servers which I can promise will always be more powerful than anything a typical gamer can put together and with a company of that magnitude, you would never need to worry about if they are updating their own hardware or not.
- No space is taken up on your devices
This is a tiny bit of a lie for people using phones as the app itself obviously takes up space but that is it, on my phone, the app takes up 132MB, included in that 132MB are the 44 games I currently own through Stadia, my PC has over 2TB of space, my stadia games take up none of that as I am able to access it through my web browser.
With the PS5 and the Xbox series both coming out soon one of the big talking points is the storage, for example, to extend the Xbox Series storage it will cost you £220, that’s on top of either the £250 (Series S) or £450 (Series X) that you’ve already paid out for, even with this extra storage you will still need to delete and re-download games as and when you want them, I currently have 44 games that I can play as and when I want.
- Ubisoft is on board
There are a lot of rumours that UPlay+ will be available soon on Stadia, these at the time of writing are just rumours but they are rumours that became a lot more substantial with an announcement on 16th October 2020 where 15 Ubisoft games were announced to be coming soon to the platform, these included Ubisoft’s biggest upcoming titles, Far Cry 6, Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
- The service can be totally free
With the base-level version of Stadia you don’t have to pay a penny to use the service, now, of course, you have to buy games that is just common sense but once you have bought the game as long as you have a mouse and keyboard or USB supported controller then you’re good to go. The restriction to the free model is that you can’t play at 4 K resolution which as I’m sure you’ll agree is a small price to pay for a free service.
There are two things that I could easily put in this upcoming cons list but Google is actively looking at rectifying these and recent news has meant that they can’t be placed as a con yet but if Google let up on what they have been doing recently then they will go straight into the cons list, these are marketing and lack of AAA games.
Googles marketing in the last few weeks has been fantastic and it is just a shame it has taken 11 months for them to get to this point, also recent announcements of games like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and a number of others are showing that AAA titles are on their way we probably just need to be a little patient with them.
- Internet required
Although you do not need expensive hardware to use this service you do need an internet connection of at least 10 Mbps, now in the UK the cheapest internet is probably going to cost you £20+ which some people won’t want the added expense so it can make it a little less accessible.
- Data Usage
This one is not a con to everyone but still needs to be mentioned, there are some people that have data caps be that on their phone or their home internet usage, Stadia can and will drain that so you have to be wary about when you may get close to your cap.
- Lag and latency
As you are streaming the game off a data centre that will be potentially 100’s or even 1000’s of miles from where you live then lag is expected you also have to take into account the internet speed you are streaming off as well. This isn’t an issue I’ve come across yet, my nearest data centre to the best of my knowledge is in Dublin, Ireland which is roughly 200 miles away from my house and I don’t have any lag or latency at all, not everyone will be as lucky as I am though and I’m sure if you look hard enough online you will find some proper horror stories regards issues people have been facing.
- No ownership of games
This is not fair to lump it directly on Stadia as it is an issue with any game purchased digitally but you do not directly own the games you buy, if Google decided to stop offering Stadia as a service then you would lose everything and as there is no way to buy physical copies like you can on PC, PlayStation, X Box etc to try and counteract that, if the servers closed down that would be it.
- Not available everywhere
At the time of writing Stadia is only available in the following countries:
Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States (except Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
That’s 14 countries, that’s approx 7% of countries in the world, Google is looking to expand this but if you live outside any of these countries then this is the biggest con as without a VPN and potentially an insane amount of lag then you won’t be able to play.
Although there are still cons to Stadia I think we are now getting to a position one year in where more gamers should be open-minded about it as a gaming platform, cloud gaming is realistically the future and prejudice towards Stadia is stopping people from getting in on the ground floor, is the negativity around Google Stadia still warranted, no it is not.