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Saturday 4 January 2020

Google Stadia - 6 Weeks Later

Google Stadia Controller

I’ve had Stadia Premiere Edition for just over 6 weeks now since launch in mid November. I was hooked on the idea of Stadia ever since the original announcement from Google earlier this year, but pre-ordered pretty late as I wanted to be sure that there were going to be some worthwhile launch titles for the platform that I could play on day one. Luckily that patience paid off!   I’ve been a keen gamer for years now and bought the Xbox One X in 2017 to be able to play the likes of Call of Duty and Forza Horizon 4 in the best possible quality. I usually buy my games digitally these days so the idea of Stadia instantly appealed to me with a completely digital experience. No need to purchase an expensive console, controller or any Andrew are at all if you just want to play on a PC or Mac you already own. Literally just subscribe to the service and instantly get access to purchase any of the library of games on offer.  

In this post, I thought I’d cover some of the most popular questions I’ve had since getting my hands on Stadia:

Does Stadia actually work?  

Short answer - Yes! To get the most out of the service you’re going to need a substantial internet connection as the quality of the stream depends almost entirely on broadband speed. Google recommends anything over 10mb/sec should enable 4K quality but in our area we’re able to access speeds of over 350mb/sec so I’ve had absolutely no issues with input lag or stream quality. My entire experience has felt like I’m playing a new console rather than anything cloud-based.   I’ve been playing at home mostly but have taken my PC to my local Starbucks and managed to get a pretty decent connection with only a few blips in quality. You can also use your phone as a hotspot to use mobile data, although unless you have unlimited data i wouldn’t recommend it as Stadia will use around  

What’s the deal with Stadia Pro?  

Stadia Pro is the subscription element of the platform and what many thought would enable Stadia to become the “Netflix of video games” by offering customers complete access the library of games for one monthly price. In actual fact, the service gives users access to 2 free games a month (chosen by Google) which are accessible as long as you keep your Pro subscription active. Destiny 2 was the main launch title for the Pro service but as soon as you decide to unsubscribe you loose access to the game. It’s nowhere need what people were expecting but for £8.99 it’s actual a pretty good deal given the quality of the games that Google are giving you.

Aside from the Pro service, you can buy access to games in a similar way to the Microsoft and Sony digital stores, with prices on Stadia currently quite competitive. My main concern around Stadia Pro is Google’s ability to keep adding must-have games every single month to keep users subscribed. So far games like Tomb Raider and Farming Simulator have been welcome additions and were probably games I otherwise wouldn’t have picked up had they not been included, but in 2020 Google will need to add some pretty impressive titles to keep users locked into that monthly fee of £8.99.  

Final Thoughts  

If you’re in any doubt as to whether Google Stadia is for you then I’d recommend waiting for the base version of the experience to launch - currently touted to be sometime in “Early 2020”. This will enable you to give the service a go without investing in any hardware at all so just create an account and purchase whatever games you like to play on PC or Mac. If you’re looking to play through your TV however, you’ll need a controller and a Chromecast Ultra which will currently set you back the best part of £120 as part of the Premiere Edition set up.  

The success of Stadia ultimately relies on 2 things - The quality of the games that Google can entice developers to add to the platform, and how well the service copes when thousands more customers sign up early this year when the base version becomes available. Stadia will need the likes of FIFA and Call of Duty to name but a few to join the service if there can be any longevity to the platform. I’m already pretty convinced that Stadia will replace the need for me to upgrade my current console when the new XBOX arrives in December, again assuming that triple A titles make there way onto the service. It makes way more sense to me to pay the £120 to get set up on Stadia and never worry about lack of performance or visual quality than having to pay £400+ every few years for the latest and greatest hardware.  

Have you tried out Stadia yet or have any questions about the platform?  
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