Now that the new Chromecast packaging has leaked alongside the new Nest Audio speaker, there’s really little we don’t know about these devices at this point. I love the fact that Google isn’t making the silly decision to re-brand their smart TV line of hardware and have chosen to stick with the Chromecast naming. We’ll obviously need to wait to see exactly how different Google TV is compared with Android TV, but as long as this new Chromecast gives users the ability to flip through streaming services to find the shows they want to watch, I think most will be happy with it.
In the leaks of the retail packaging we’ve seen, there is one very odd omission: Stadia. While not a standard media streaming service like YouTube, Netflix or Hulu, Stadia is most definitely a huge part of the Chromecast experience. Compared with GeForce NOW or Microsoft’s XCloud, Chromecast abilities are what make Stadia a step better than other offerings. Sure, I like to play on my Chromebook and the ability to play on my phone on the go sounds great (I never do it), but being able to throw PGA Tour 2K21 up on my living room TV is the most console-like experience I’ve had with streaming gaming. And generally speaking, it is the best overall way to experience Stadia.
Why is there no mention of Stadia?
Google’s decision to leave the Stadia logo off the retail box for the new Chromecast is strange, but I find it impossible to believe that it means this new device won’t run Stadia. After all, it will likely have two avenues to do so if it chose: standard Chromecast protocol and/or Android. With this new dongle supporting 4K (it is clearly shown on the box) and having more processing power than the Chromecast Ultra (it runs a small OS after all), I really see no reason whatsoever that Google would choose to leave Stadia out of the conversation.
As a consumer-facing product and a hardware line that has been out for many years now, perhaps Google is focusing in on classic streaming media providers for the new Chromecast box. As great as Stadia is, the truth is few people have any idea what it is. Compare that with the logos on the front of the box like CBS, YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify and you quickly see that Google is leveraging these brands to get people to understand that this new Chromecast will be the Swiss Army Knife of smart streaming devices. For the average consumer out there, adding Stadia to that list isn’t a big selling point.
Down the road as Stadia continues to gain public mind share, I could see them adding it to the front of the box, but for now I think it is an omission that is at least understandable. At the same time, I also don’t think it would have hurt to include it somewhere on the box as I’m confident this new Chromecast will work with Stadia. If not, Google would be communicating quite a bit about the long-term viability of its game streaming platform and it would be an utter slap in the face of the entire Stadia team and all the players that have joined so far.
I obviously don’t have any evidence that this new Chromecast will 100% support Stadia, but I have a very hard time believing even Google would be so short-sighted. We likely won’t know until the product launches next week and we can test things out, but I’m not losing any sleep worrying that Stadia won’t be along for the ride when the new Chromecast with Google TV starts shipping after Google’s hardware event.