As promised, Google’s Stadia game streaming service goes live tomorrow — although early reviews suggest that it might not be for everyone just yet.

The good news is that a week after announcing that only a dozen games would be playable at launch, Google has added another ten to the listen, bringing the total number to 22.

The bad news is that a whole bunch of promised features aren’t available yet, and the only way to use Stadia right now is to subscribe to Stadia Pro and buy a $129 Premiere Edition bundle.

But things could get more interesting in a few months.

First of all, that’s because in 2020 you won’t need to buy any new hardware or sign up for a subscription to use Stadia. Just choose the game you want to play, buy it for about the same price you’d pay for a PC or console version of the game, and you can stream it to your computer, phone, tablet, or TV (if you already have a Chromecast Ultra).

Basically, Stadia seems perfect for casual or occasional gamers who want to play a game or two, but don’t want to invest in hardware to do it.

In that sense, rather than thinking of Stadia as competing with PC or console gaming, it probably makes sense to think of Stadia as something you may not actually have to think about at all eventually. Sure, you can sign up for a Stadia Pro subscription for access to 4K streaming, discounted game purchases, and some “free” games thrown in). But one day you might just click a link on a website using your phone or PC and start playing a game without having to think about the underlying technology that makes it possible.

We’re not there yet — this week you can only play if you’ve paid $129 for a bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, and a 3-month Stadia Pro subscription.

And at launch a whole bunch of promised features also aren’t available, including:

  • Stream to an iPhone
  • Voice chat
  • Achievements
  • Friends list
  • Bluetooth headset support
  • Capture and share gameplay to YouTube
  • Family sharing
  • Screen Sharing
  • Google Assistant integration

The good news is that early reviews suggest that while Stadia still feels like a beta in a lot of ways due to its missing features, it does deliver on the basic promise. If you’ve got a reasonably fast internet connection, you can play games with little lag — although the graphics quality may not be as high as on other platforms and it may dip from time to time.

Here are some reviews if you want more details:

 

 



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7 Comments

  1. Hey Google, how about a client that runs on Raspberry Pi 4 and can use a logitech controller? I don’t want a chromecast or one of your controllers.

    1. It just requires a Chrome browser to run, and you can use an Xbox or PS4 controller with it also. So, if you can run Chrome on a Pi and it works with those controllers, you are all set.

  2. This is a concept that I would love to be onboard with. However, it isn’t nearly at the level that would entice me. Brad is right, you can’t think of this as a competitor to ownership of a gaming PC. But that’s exactly what I want.

    All it would take is for Steam to launch a service like this, and Stadia would be forgotten more quickly than the Microsoft Zune.

    I can’t wait for the day that we have the ability to use Quantum Entanglement as a connection medium for internet, or even for hardware buses to connect PC hardware. Services like this could truly have no latency. Or better yet, we could all own dummy thin-clients, and our GPUs could be housed in GPU-farm warehouses. Then we could just pay for a fractional “share” of vast amounts of GPU power.

    1. I want to disagree with almost all of this, but I can’t think of a good way to do that, so I’ll just say this:
      The paradigm you want is the same sort of meme being pushed by the major IT corporations, which are not nice and are not run by nice people. Doing things their way does terrible things to people’s minds and just keeps opening more avenues for exploitation and abuse. Doing things as independently as possible is the only permissible way to reject that. I’d like for that to not get more difficult or less socially acceptable.

  3. I’m more interested MS’ Project xCloud (mostly because it’s not Google). I signed up to test it and got approved but I don’t have an Android phone since that’s what xCloud currently only supports.

    I don’t play PC games but if I can play them decently without needing to buy a gaming PC, then I’d be up for it. Is there info on how xCloud will work in terms what needs to be paid for (ie. all you can play subscription, pay for individual games, etc.)?

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