I Tried Google Stadia

Is this the future of gaming?

Google Stadia is offering a two month free trial of their Pro service, so I decided to give it a spin. For what’s sold as a hardcode gaming platform, in reality it’s a half baked solution in search of a problem.

If you’re not familiar with Google Stadia, Stadia is Google’s step into the gaming market. However, unlike a traditional game console, all the games run on their servers. Your button presses are sent to their data centers, and the video and audio are sent back to your device. This means no expensive hardware purchases for users, plus users can play on any device (cell phone, tablet, computer, etc.) Basically, if it can show a picture and take input from a controller, in theory you could play high end games on it.

For my experience, I tried the racing game GRID - which is currently free with the trial - on both a web browser and an Android phone. In short, the experience was blurry, there was obvious input lag (meaning my car didn’t turn immediately after me steering), plus there were noticable studder, including one that was so bad the whole game froze for a second (which caused me to crash). Plus, there’s little things, like the web interface saying you have to use a wired controller, or making you download the app to change settings in your browser. For something that has been out for 6 months, it still feels like an alpha release.

Technical issues aside, I don’t see who their market is. A hardcore gamer most likely already can play these games on their gaming PC or high end gaming console. A gamer strapped for cash probably already owns a console; we’re at the end of this console cycle, so there’s been some great deals. Right now you can get a used Xbox One with four games for $200. A casual gamer isn’t really interested in AAA titles, and they’re already playing games on their phones. Maybe if you’re someone who’s only interested in one game and doesn’t want to invest in a system, but I can’t imagine that’s enough users to keep this service profitable. Or maybe if you’re someone who wants to play AAA titles on the go… but they probably already own a Nintendo Switch.

Perhaps there is something I’m missing, but as someone who considers himself a “hardcore” gamer, I don’t see the point. Maybe if Stadia was more polished or maybe if there were some exclusives to the service I’d feel differently, but as of right now, I don’t see this being any better than what I already have. And if it’s not better than what I already have, why would I start using it?

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