Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service flexed its muscles this week by pushing various bug fixes to the web in the blink of an eye – something hardware based game consoles simply can’t do without a downloaded hot fix. The first and most important update and the one most worthy of talking about is the fact that you can now navigate your games library and even start playing with just the controller.
Previously, you had to scroll through your games and press the ‘play’ button with your mouse before picking up your Stadia controller or Dual Shock 4 to begin. This little tweak may seem elementary, but it goes a long way to making the Stadia website feel like a standalone game console. It now feels very natural and more immersive instead of inconsistent and dependent on PC input peripherals. bundle that with the fact that Stadia requires no downloads and you have infinite space to store your games as they’re on Google’s super computers and you can see how thier vision for the future of gaming becomes more convincing with each update. Don’t forget that you can now use your Stadia controller wirelessly on the web as well. This feature alone has made the service more accessible to me. I’ve played more frequently now than ever before. Here’s to hoping we can do the same on the phone sooner rather than later.
With this fix comes another bug. That is how software works, right? When you’re done playing your game and you press and hold the Stadia button to quit to the home screen, you will sometimes encounter an issue where the game will immediately open again without your consent. You then have to wait for the game to boot up before you can shut it down a second time.
The next upate is a simple UI tweak that, to me at least, has a lot of impact on the way I use the the website. Upon opening Stadia, you receive a notification at the top left of the screen that states whether or not you have a headset connected. A few days ago, this notification would overlap the navigation for the home page and the store. Most of the time when I open Stadia, I go straight to the store to check for new games and deals. Until now, I’ve had to wait for the pop up to disappear before I could continue. This was super frustrating. Luckily, that’s no longer the case as you can see in the image below.
The reddit community over at r/stadia is no doubt rejoicing over these fixes with several users pointing out how Google is listening to them and actively implementing changes to the service based on their feedback.
Many players have been content with waiting for Google’s fixes to be implemented, but one programmer named Malte Klüft has set out to add his own spice to the interface with his Chrome web extension called Stadia+. An open source project, Stadia+ adds several exciting features to Stadia including custom filters for your games which allow you to sort them via recent, alphabetical or random, the ability to hide or show games in your library, an in game clock on the Stadia menu, a network monitor overlay while you game and more.
My favorite feature of Stadia+ is that you can add any of your games as a shortcut to the desktop of your Windows computer or the shelf of your Chromebook. As much as I like this, I probably won’t be using it as each shortcut shows a generic Chrome icon instead of the game’s logo. That’s just too bad. I’m the type of person who must have custom icons.
Stadia+ was updated with the headset notification UI fix a day before Stadia was, so that’s interesting. Has Google reached out to Malte as he’s developing this? We’re not sure, but it would be nice to see Google implement the rest of the Stadia+ features into the core service eventually. We’ll just have to wait and see. You can support Malte Klüft on his Patreon to further the development of Stadia+.