Stadia has just rolled over the one month mark since launch, and in that time, many things have been corrected, added, and cleaned up. More games have arrived, more of the initial, promised features have shown up, and the early wrinkles have already started ironing themselves out. It feels insanely easy to forget that this new gaming platform by a company new to the market is literally only a newborn at this point.
I suppose part of that stems from the fact that we’ve been talking about Stadia for months on end and anticipating what it would be like once it arrived. With all that lead up and all the hype, it is easy to forget that Stadia basically just launched and isn’t just new: it is brand-new. We feel confident that most – if not all – of the promised features of Stadia will be here by February when the free-to-play Stadia Base launches, so we want to hold a full review of the platform until then. For now, we just want to talk about what it is like to actually play games on Stadia.
The undertone we all feel when using it seems to be the same around the office: it just works. Sure, there are hiccups every so often, but they are minute enough not to be a huge bother and I’ve not once had an issue that caused me to be booted out of a game session. The thing I have to keep coming back to is the fact that all the hype and craziness around the launch of this platform was due to the fact that we were all quietly wondering if Google could even pull this off in the first place. Could cloud-based, streaming games actually work in the real world? The surprising answer is yes!
For all the little nuances and features we’re looking forward to that will admittedly put Stadia into territory no one else can be in right now (share states, 4K streams with no additional equipment, and stream connect), it is easy to miss the simple fact that Stadia streams massive games at a playable frame rate and without latency issues. When I remember to think about it, I am blown away each and every time. I’m amazed that I can flip open a cheap Chromebook, click a button and start playing Ghost Recon Breakpoint or Destiny 2. I’m amazed at how fluid the gameplay is and how tight the controls can feel, knowing I’m sending my requests to a server that is located miles away from my location. I’m frankly just amazed that they have made this happen at all.
It’s not all fairy tales and pixie dust, however. There’s work still to be done, but with the rapid addition of features and games, I’m more confident than ever that Stadia is going to end up being a legitimate contender in the gaming space. The fact that players like myself who have been relegated to mobile games for years now are picking up a controller and wading into the waters of AAA games again is testament to the efficacy and promise of the platform. While Stadia may never be for the hard-core, competitive gamers out there, we commoners can use it and love it all the same. And trust me, there are lots of us.
Stadia simply needs to keep the foot on the pedal, keep getting games out, and keep attracting new users. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again: game platforms need players and titles to succeed. The Nintendo Switch proves this point. It can’t compete on a graphics level with the XBOX, Playstation or PC, but it is killing it anyway. How? They have great games, a great experience, and loads of players.
Casual gamers are on the rise and many like myself have been on the sidelines because of careers, family, and other responsibilities. The Nintendo Switch made me think I could leverage its portability to engage in some gaming again, but my phone has largely taken that place. Stadia offers up a different promise, though. Not a portable, single system, but a system that is accessible in various ways, in various locations, via various hardware. I’ve used it in all its forms and enjoyed each one. And it is that accessibility that gives me hope that this gaming platform and others like it will be the next step in the evolution of gaming.