When it comes to gaming, Chromebooks are simply never in the conversation. Without an OS that is targeted for big title games and hardware that isn’t built for high-end gaming, Chromebooks just aren’t the choice for anyone if gaming is a big part of the reason for purchase.
While Android gaming brought about a much deeper gaming experience for Chromebook users, games from the Play Store are still generally made for phones first, so playing them on Chromebooks can be a bit hit-or-miss. Web-based games do well on Chromebooks, but that gaming segment has yet to really take off. The other real option is GPU-enabled Linux apps which are going to be possible in Chrome OS 76, but that still falls short of a real gaming experience because the hardware on a Chromebook will still struggle with modern games.
When Stadia hit the scene a few months back, I was pessimistically hopeful. You see, I’ve tried many streaming game services only to be let down by too much lag and unplayable controls. Games like Fortnite and PUBG require split-second movements and decisions that controller lag ultimately undoes. Services like Vortex, Paperspace, and GeForce Now have all failed me in the past, so I wasn’t ready to really put hope in Google’s Stadia venture when they first announced it.
But now, I am, and I want to share why.
First up are all the titles being announced for Stadia at the first Stadia Connect earlier today. Gabriel recapped all that, so you can check it out here if you are out of the loop. In the announcement, games like Mortal Kombat 11, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Destiny 2, Doom Eternal, and more were announced as titles available at launch in November, and that means a lot.
Stadia is, after all, a platform that has to be developed for. These large game studios have undoubtedly had access to the platform for months and have become so convinced of Stadia’s legitimacy that they’ve put the time and effort into getting their best games on there. If Google came to Bungie and pitched the idea of Destiny 2 being a big launch title for Stadia and the whole thing was a stuttering, laggy mess, do you really think they would move forward with it? I don’t, and I think all of these developer shops would have stayed far away if their games ran like trash on Stadia.
A Taste of The Future
Honestly, though, that wasn’t enough to push me into being a believer in Stadia. Too many cloud gaming experiences had been too bad for too long for me to be convinced that Stadia will actually pull this off.
Then I bought the Shield TV for the second time.
We’ll leave the reason why I bought it aside as it isn’t relevant, but once I had it up and running at the house, I thought it would be a good idea to just give GeForce Now (NVidia’s cloud gaming service) another try just to see how it would do. After all, my hopes were pretty low and my first experience with the service was not good at all.
Let me say I was shocked by the results.
Not only did the service get up and running with ease; the controls and lag were as close to perfect as I could hope for a AAA game like Apex Legends running on a remote server and being controlled by a small Android TV box in my living room. My lack of skill in the game aside, playing this game on the GeForce Now streaming service was so convincing that I was stunned. I still have a hard time believing how well this whole setup pulls off gaming on a low-powered piece of hardware.
Since then I’ve played PUBG, Apex Legends and Fortnite with as much regularity as I can and I continue to be amazed by the experience. Once I hard-wired my internet connection and plugged in a mouse and keyboard to replace the Bluetooth setup, it became easy to forget that the game being played on my screen was actually being hosted miles away on a server.
And, if NVidia can get this right, what can a company like Google with their vast server resources and amazing streaming codec experience do? This is no knock to NVidia at all, but imagine much more primed for this type of service Google is right now. With their reach and resources, there’s no doubt in my mind that Stadia will be as good as NVidia’s GeForce Now if not better.
Once that is the case and Stadia is released to the world in November, I simply cannot wait to open up my Chromebook, log in, and jump into a gaming session wherever I am. I’ve gone from extremely hesitant to 100% bought-in on Stadia and look forward to finally being able to use my device that is always with me to experience some of the best that the gaming world has to offer.