As inevitable as a streaming focused future for video games is, it doesn’t look like Google Stadia will be the one reign it in. By all accounts, it’s not a half bad implementation when networking kinks are accounted for.
It’s just that, currently, its business model and failure to deliver on promise have made for a particularly rocky launch.
Who is Stadia for?
Taking a hard look at the necessary opt-in to currently use the service, its launch lineup, and the business model Google is currently employing makes it easy to see that Stadia was never meant to more than a soft launch.
Making sense of its target demographic is incredibly puzzling all the same. According to Jason Scheier of Kotaku, it seems as though initial sales figures reflect this.
And although the launch lineup of Stadia recently increased, the crux of the service’s distribution and content models reduces interest from casual and hardcore players alike.
Those heavily invested in gaming are required to buy old titles at near retail and players with a passing interest are limited to an obstructive way of entering the ecosystem.
Critically speaking, the platform has mostly fell to a middling response. The competent streaming performance is overshadowed by confused identity.
Google Stadia reviews:
- Google Stadia review: the best of cloud gaming is still just a beta (The Verge)
- Google Stadia Review: A Muddled Stream of Consciousness (USG)
- Google Stadia Wants You to Replace Your Video Game Console. Don’t. (New York Times)
For a video overview, I highly recommend the Giant Bomb Quick Look. Jeff Gerstmann and crew do a great job of relaying the strengths and, more importantly, fractured pitch of Stadia.
Offering a fresh entry point for players is something that Google will need to take very seriously as services like Project xCloud launch.
Microsoft has recently announced plans to integrate Game Pass with their streaming service and has the obvious benefit of decades in gaming. Google, comparatively, has little experience in the video game market.
Will most be willing to pay for a subscription in addition to purchasing games outright?
The allure of streaming is convenience and Stadia’s current model is just the opposite.
Just short of promise
The idea of high fidelity gaming without the need for expensive hardware is the dream for most players.
Unfortunately, it seems as though this is another area where Google has missed the mark.
In order to take part in the Stadia soft launch you need to buy:
- Google Stadia Premier Edition
- $10 a month Stadia Pro subscription
As of now, jumping into an already restrictive service doesn’t make sense if the regularly touted specs aren’t being met.
Players need to know where the service is heading so that they believe it won’t always be fragmented, confusing, and difficult to engage with.
It would be foolish to think that this is the final version of Stadia, but Google needs to move away from the intangibles of hyped tech talk and towards what actually matters – games and ease of consumption – if they want walk among giants.
Lover of games, tech, nature, and strange electronic music. Shaped by Sega, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox – platform agnostic ever since. Currently overwhelmed by choice on my Xbox Series X thanks to Game Pass.