The gaming industry is at a renaissance point. Companies are releasing their newest generation consoles, while others differed in their approach towards creating unique gameplay. Google decided to leverage its expertise in the internet and data to deliver a new version of gaming. This version of gaming is called Google Stadia. Google feels that many people that use this console will be able to truly detach themselves from the idea of a console is. This scenario won’t happen in its current state. With a significant amount of flaws and overall decent returns at best, Stadia does not stand out in a stadium.
Stadia’s controller is fine. The buttons feel soft to use, giving decent feedback. The control sticks, are actually higher than what you would expect. They are a little bit taller which means that for those who like gaming on shorter distances they are going to have a little bit of a harder time using these controllers. I opted for the limited-edition Night Blue controller that came from the Founder’s Pack. It felt like a good choice since the color scheme looked appealing especially with the contrast between its blue and orange. The scheme made it click in terms of appeal. The plastic feel feels matted and nice, which may help with longer gaming sessions.
Trying to play games on multiple different connections varied. At certain points, the gaming would be very smooth. Using the provided Chromecast and controller provided it felt easy and smooth to play. However, at other times, you would see and feel stutters. Playing on a laptop I saw frames drop when I was on connections that weren’t as stable. This scenario occurred in an environment that had multiple Wi-Fi connected devices. This created experience where things would not respond as fast causing chaos. Sometimes, you would notice lag, which for fighting games is absolutely detrimental. But for other games, it’s not necessary and often times is unnoticeable. Finally, when the connection dropped, the effects felt similar to a crash. No way, to pause or resume, and it landing to game idle/suspension state.
The convenience of Stadia cannot be overstated enough. Knowing that you can simply bring up a laptop or a phone and play wherever you go made gaming easier. By simply hop onto the URL login with a plugged controller you could jump into games. This is great because it incentivizes playing over the needless setup procedures of trying to get a console hooked up.
There are significant rough patches around Stadia. I found resuming games after letting it idle very difficult. It would sometimes be confusing trying to get things to sync properly. For instance, you will be given the code to activate the Stadia controller to resume only to activate it and nothing happened. Instead, I had to disconnect from the Chromecast with my phone and reconnect to get the controller and gaming started again. Speaking of being next to a phone, almost every time I had to use the phone next to me in order to jump onto the games. It felt like a significant hassle, where I wanted to hop on and play, but first had to go to the app, to press the button to start the game on my TV.
These rough patches don’t even begin to talk about other issues. There is a lack of Google Assistant support as well as many of the features talked about for the console at launch. You have to use the Stadia provided Chromecast to play on the TV. The previous Chromecasts including the Chromecast Ultra currently do not have support for Stadia. The Stadia service options are a bit confusing, with paying more for the best quality but maintaining the game even if you don’t. People will question if it’s worth investing in the service itself or if it’s worth just buy the games outright from there. Finally, while not necessarily a necessity, the phone stand took a while to release and is not included in the original package for Stadia itself.
Stadia is a good Google Beta product harkening back to when Google first started. It overall works okay and may get better with iteration. However, good is not good enough in the video game environment and players will not wait for something to get better. In this shape, it makes a person wonder if it’s worth investing in Google Stadia. If a person is truly committed to internet gaming and wanting to play with all caveats, it’s worth investing. For everyone else, Stadia won’t do much to motivate people to jump on the device.