Google Stadia seems to be a beta product at launch. Users have had trouble getting access and when they do get access they find an amputated service. Promises of 4K HDR streaming do not hold water.
Google Stadia in beta
Stadia is a streaming service for games but it is not ‘Netflix of games’. A $10 per month subscription gives you access to the technology but games must be purchased individually.
Stadia is promoted as “games, without a console”. And while that may be true, you are still required to purchase a game controller and a Chromecast Ultra - the ‘Founders’ kit. Some users who received the kit have had to wait for Google to issue an access code. The promise was immediate access. That is according to The Verge.
Some users are also experiencing Chromecast Ultra overheating problems as detailed on multiple sites, including reddit. And only Chromecast Ultra devices bough as part of the ‘founders’ kit work with Stadia at this time.
Those issues come on top of a long list of missing features and limitations. The “wireless” controller must be connected via USB to PCs and smartphones. There is no cross-play with other gaming platforms in games such as Destiny 2. Wireless headphones are not supported on TV. Google Assistant only lets you launch games. Features such as Stream Connect, State Share and Crowd Play are not ready yet.
Broken promises of 4K HDR
One of the promises that Google made ahead of launch was that Stadia would enable users to stream games in 4K HDR - and later 4K120 and 8K. A Pro subscription plan is required.
Google confirms that 4K HDR is not supported on PC at launch. That limitation would probably be acceptable if 4K HDR worked on TVs. Google has insisted on that being the case but the developer of Destiny 2 now has to eat humble pie.
The developer confirms that Destiny 2 is rendered at 1080p at the PC-equivalent of medium settings, and then upscaled to 4K before the stream reaches your TV via Chromecast Ultra. It has also become clear that Red Dead Redemption 2 is rendered at 1440p and upscaled to 4K.
There are, however, also good news. The game library has almost doubled to 22 titles. Many users are pointing out that Google’s game streaming technology shows promise.
But this is not the future of game streaming that Google had promised. After a problematic launch, the company must work even harder to convince gamers that game streaming technology is mature. In the meantime, are you prepared to buy games from Google at full price and have them tied to Stadia that may or may not be around 5 years from now?
Stadia is not the first game streaming service either. Sony has had PlayStation Now for a few years. Before PS Now, there was OnLive and Gaikai - both acquired by Sony. Microsoft will launch ‘Project xCloud’ next year.
- Source: Google, The Verge, Eurogamer, reddit