The launch of Google Stadia at the end of 2019 promised to bring games streaming into a new era. While the first phase of this service was limited to certain users in just 14 countries, the biggest concern was over the relatively small number of games.
As reported by Business Insider, Google has recently announced a big batch of games to be added to the site, including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the latest FIFA title among them. With the service now ramping up, it is a good moment ask whether this cloud gaming idea is living up to expectations.
What Exactly Is Google Stadia?
The giant technology company, which is reported to be about to offer bank accounts, has been working on this project for years, initially under the name of Project Stream. At the current time, it can stream HDR in 4K resolution with 60 frames per second, with the eventual aim being to achieve double both the frame rate and the resolution.
The Beta testing of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 2018 first showed the world the potential of this cloud gaming approach. Players can access games directly in their Chrome browser without downloading anything, using a Windows PC with a decent graphics card or certain mobile devices.
A constant internet connection of about 35mbps is needed to get 4K quality streaming, while 10mbps should ensure at least 720p quality. The initial package was called the Founder’s Edition, with the £199 cost including three months of access and a controller.
After this, the monthly cost will be £8.99 with some game discounts included for members. A free, base service allows for streaming at up to 1080p.
What Has the Initial Feedback Been Like?
It is fair to say that reviews of Google Stadia have been mixed to date. The relative lack of games and some missing features have caused it to get off to a sluggish start in terms of winning people over. A Digital Trends review points out that it has a “confusing interface and small library”, with five stars out of a possible ten awarded.
Tom’s Guide gave Google Stadia 2.5 stars out of five, mentioning “a thousand small problems” that make it difficult to use. As with the earlier review, there is a feeling that there is huge potential in the idea of cloud gaming. However, the reviewer thinks that the time might not be right for it just now.
Other gamers are worried about the fact that they would need to pay to stream games that they already own physical copies of. It seems that it is likely to be more attractive once more new games are added to it.
How Does It Compare to Other Streaming Options?
This isn’t the only service that will offer the chance to stream a range of games from a single source. Microsoft developers have been working on Project xCloud for several years. They showed in early 2019 how it could work, with Forza Horizon 4 played on a smartphone that was connected to an Xbox. They are also working on Project Scarlett, for a next-generation console.
Sony have already launched their PlayStation Now service, streaming games to PlayStation 2, 3 and 4 devices or to a Windows PC. According to the official PlayStation site, there are now over 700 games available on this platform, with a seven-day free trial available for new members.
We can see the approach of streaming games present in other genres too. The Betway Casino site has live dealer games, including a number of roulette and blackjack variants, where the player is face to face with a human croupier. They also have instant play, in-browser slots titles. If we look at Steam, we can see their Stream Games collection. This is a variety of seven mini-games that Twitch and Mixer streamers can play while interacting with their viewers. It seems likely that more cloud gaming services become available over time too.
A Look at the Future of Google Stadia
There is a chance that Google Stadia is the future of gaming. Certainly, streaming games is now a subject that is getting a lot of attention. Google have started their service early, giving them a chance to get established and sort out any issues while Microsoft and others are still working on their versions.
The concept of streaming games instead of buying a console and physical games might still be a little bit ahead of its time, though. With one in every four Brits owning a PS4, there is no immediate rush for many people to start streaming in this way in 2020.
Once the wrinkles have been ironed out and some more new games are available, a clearer assessment of Google Stadia will be possible. For the moment, it remains a tantalisingly good idea that hasn’t quite caught the public’s imagination yet but has every chance of doing so in the future.