I was one of those pioneers who back in November 2019 took their card for a walk to buy the Founder’s Edition of Google Stadia, Google’s streaming video game platform. As a gamer that I consider myself, Google’s proposal seemed most interesting to me: playing the triple A titles that I liked the most on any device with Internet access. It sounded too good to pass up. A year has passed since that day.
Today I continue to religiously pay my 9.99 euros a month to access Stadia Pro. Google has been in charge of nurturing my profile with different free games (for subscribers) throughout these months and I, in addition, have bought (and completed ) some like ‘ Red Dead Redemption 2 ‘ and ‘ Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’. Far from analyzing in depth the current state of the platform, today I would like to tell you how the experience has been during this year with its beginning, its middle and its end.
Home: Google Stadia 24/7
When Google Stadia came home I was lucky to have no problems activating the service. The command arrived, the Chromecast Ultra arrived and the activation code arrived. I was able to play from the first moment and I remember that my first game was ‘Destiny 2’ , a game that, I open an umbrella, has never quite convinced me. I also played a couple of games on ‘Samurai Showdown’ and they were the only ones I did, fighting games are not my thing.
I was fascinated (and still fascinated by) how well the platform was doing. The analyzes were not in agreement when it came to performance, but I was doing very fine. Yes, there was some image compression, the HDR worked that way depending on which games and at some point in time you could find the odd pull, but nothing too serious considering that Google Stadia was the first great massive service of streaming video game.
I played a lot every day, both on the PC and on TV. On mobile I haven’t done much of it because the games that I like don’t end up being enjoyed on such a small screen, but when I have, I haven’t had a bad experience either. And then I was beginning to see a little problem: I played daily, but my friends did not . Sometimes I played with my partner Samuel Fernández, from Engadget Mobile and Android, to ‘ Ghost Recon Breakpoint ‘ and to ‘Destiny 2’ and we had a great time, but I was missing that social aspect that video consoles, Steam and other platforms do have. To this day, not a single one of my friends plays on Google Stadia.
I loved Google Stadia. I bought ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ and I really enjoyed it . I loved the idea of playing on TV, going to the room, turning on the computer and having the game started and ready to play. I enjoyed the game like a dwarf. I admit it had some glitches in the darkest parts (typical of streaming compression), but I can’t remember thinking “how bad it looks” or “what a nasty latency”. Then I did the same with ‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’ , which hasn’t been my favorite ‘Assassin’s Creed’, but hey, not too bad.
I played a lot during the first months, but the game catalog started to fall short . There were a lot of minor titles that I didn’t like and a lot of overpriced triple A’s whose prices were added to the monthly subscription. Nor were there competitive games that were a real challenge, think of a ‘Call of Duty‘, a ‘Battlefield’ or something like that.
My incentive to pay for games like ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’ was that I did not have a powerful enough computer to move these games in decent quality. And then the day came.
Knot: the purchase of the computer arrived
I liked Google Stadia a lot, but when you get interested in the world of PC gaming you realize that there are things that a computer can offer and a streaming service, for now, no . We are talking about a high refresh rate, a much higher range of free to play and competitive games and graphics that are not sacrificed by streaming compression.
Given that the Stadia catalog was not updated very frequently (it currently has around 100 games, to give us an idea), in addition to the fact that I had always wanted to play on PC at the highest quality (at home we have been from PlayStation of all life), I embarked on the adventure of buying the gaming PC from which I write these lines . It was money, but I must admit that I do not regret it, and more with ‘ Cyberpunk 2077 ‘ just around the corner.
Every time I played Google Stadia less and when I did I did it to casual games like ‘Thumper’ to kill time. The news also came that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S were released at the end of the year, which meant that my desire to buy games for the current generation subsided. I’d rather wait for the consoles and then buy the remastered / enhanced games for the new generation.
The fact is that the computer, little by little, was almost completely displacing Google Stadia. Every month I worried about claiming the games that Google gave away to Stadia Pro subscribers because hey, it never hurts to have a few extra games to get your hands on from time to time, but I didn’t play assiduously. Yes, he did it sporadically and well, as in the beginning, but he was spending less time on it.
There were also no major news on the platform. They were arriving with a dropper, like Stream Connect, but Crowd Play and State Share are still missing, which are interesting in order to interact with the community. The game catalog has been expanding little by little and, theoretically, some games from Electronic Arts and Ubisoft + should arrive sooner rather than later , but the feeling I have after a year is that there has not been a very important evolution. I also have my reservations with the Google Stadia business model, but we leave that for another time.
When I got used to playing on PC, I began to appreciate things that before I did not value so much: the refresh rate, the sharpness of the textures, not having to depend on the Internet connection to work perfectly to play a single player game … . That Stadia I could not give and, today, still unable to do so. Neither Google Stadia nor any platform, by the way, because now Google Stadia is not alone.
Outcome: Google is no longer alone
Time passed and Google began to stop being the only massive video game streaming service. Different actors came to the market with their respective proposals. We are talking, of course, about NVIDIA GeForce Now, Microsoft xCloud and the newcomer Amazon Luna , which is yet to land.
The thing is, these proposals are not exactly like Google Stadia. Google Stadia is a video game store where you can play games . You pay to access the platform (if you want to take advantage of 4K resolution, HDR and 5.1 sound, of course, if you can’t play for free) and you pay for the games that interest you. NVIDIA GeForce Now and xCloud advocate other models.
What GeForce Now offers you is to play your own games in the cloud. Simply link to your Steam or Epic Games library and voila, you play the games you have purchased. It has its drawbacks, of course, like the free version only lets you play for an hour and you have to queue to play, but the proposal is interesting and the price isn’t excessively high.
Microsoft xCloud , for its part, proposes that you pay a subscription that entitles you to online gaming on Xbox, Game Pass on PC , Game Pass on console and gaming in the cloud. It is the most expensive proposal, but also the simplest: you pay a subscription to access a flat rate of video games that you can play from your mobile (perhaps for me this is not interesting, but for other users it is).
Amazon Luna is still pending arrival and it is too early to assess it, but its proposal is just as interesting. In addition, Amazon is not exactly a rival to despise, because like Google, Amazon knows about servers (that is, the Internet is built on AWS) and, like Google with YouTube Gaming, Amazon has Twitch, which can serve as a shuttle.
Google Stadia, however, seems to be growing little by little , increasing its catalog of games (with more or less known titles) and adding functions to the apps. However, we don’t know how many users Stadia has and how many people use the platform on a daily basis. Tom Worren says in The Verge that there are 10,000 players in ‘Destiny 2’, while in Steam at the time of this writing there are more than 50,000, but we do not know the number of monthly active users globally.
And it’s not because Google Stadia (and company) has no potential. The streaming video game has enormous potential to revolutionize the world of video games. We are talking about a service that eliminates downloads, updates and all the friction of entering the world of video games. Click and play, you have no more. It’s very, very interesting, but my experience after a year playing is that he still has a way to go.
Google Stadia, with its pluses and minuses, has shown that it is possible to have a platform that works properly , offering the most casual gamers a simple and accessible way to play withalmostregardless of the hardware they use. And that’s great, it’s a disruptive idea. And it works, which is the best.
My experience with Google Stadia has been very positive over the years and, what’s more, I plan to continue paying for Stadia Pro. I played well, I had fun, I had no performance problems of any kind and I even forgot that I was playing in streaming. Is it a perfect service? No, the catalog is missing and the promised features are missing, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with time and resources. Google Stadia works, now it just has to mature.