Finally! Google has finally launched the official Stadia app for Google/Android TV. Naming issues aside between Google TV and Android TV, it is great to see Stadia arrive on the Chromecast that everyone actually wants to buy. I’m tempted to skip past the part where I say this should have been in place from day one when the new Chromecast launched, but I have to at least mention it. The fact that this app took nearly 8 months to arrive feels absolutely absurd and did nothing to help the fledgling gaming service to thrive. I don’t know how many Chromecasts with Google TV have sold, but I bet its a ton, and all those users could have really helped give Stadia a surge of new players that could arrive now that the app is finally here.
Now that I have that out of my system, I have to say the implementation of the Stadia app on Android/Google TV – now that it has arrived – is extremely good. From the unique splash screen to the full array of options and menus, the experience is great from the start. Right out of the gate, the controller connection setup is intuitive, simple and worked with both my Stadia controller and my XBOX controller as well. From there, it’s business as usual as you navigate your game library and choose what you’d like to begin playing.
As always, launching games is smooth and the entire experience of moving through titles and into games in Stadia is the best in the business. Compared to services like NVIDIA GeForce NOW, there’s a polish to the Stadia experience that sits head-and-shoulders above the rest. I can honestly forget that I’m not playing games on my local hardware when inside the Stadia UI, and I really value that. The Android/Google TV app delivers on all of this in a very solid way.
With full support for all the extras like messages, network settings, and in-game chat, it’s really quite the wonder that this type of gaming experience is available to so many people now for free. At the end of the day, Stadia has been available on Android, on the web, and via the Chromecast Ultra for quite some time, but the majority of people want to play games on their TV in the living room. Forcing users to buy a Chromecast Ultra in order to play Stadia when the clearly superior (and far more practical) Chromecast with Google TV exists has been a huge issue for months and that issue is finally gone now.
Essentially, Stadia is giving millions of potential new users free access to a super-powerful gaming rig with barely any setup. And with a full month free right up front, Google needs to get this in front of as many eyes as possible. With a $49 Chromecast (that is frankly amazing at doing everything you need in a streaming dongle) and a bluetooth controller you may have lying around the house, you can be playing some pretty spectacular games in just a few minutes. As a sneak peek, we’ve even tried it on the new Onn. streaming dongle from Walmart that runs $29 (video coming soon) and Stadia is amazing there as well. Google needs to get this message out in force and with the multiple new ways of access, I think they could turn the tide with Stadia. The service is there, the games are there, but it needs players. Android/Google TV could be that gateway, and I’m really glad it works so well.