. Google's Stadia streaming system has been the most exciting on the gaming market for years. You can try it out first-hand in November … and probably should not.
Why not? Since the "Founder's Edition", which is currently on sale, is essentially a complex beta test, it is a somewhat more modern "early access" sale. There is nothing wrong with that, but Google advertises as if it were something special and exclusive. That's just not the case: it's a relatively expensive way to be Google's guinea pig for a streaming setup that will be complete by 2020. If you do not feel like getting in early, save your money and wait for Full Deployment next year.
What does the Founder Edition bring you?
Google is currently offering the Stadia Founder Edition for pre-order. Starting in November, buying the $ 1
Since the Stadia controller alone costs $ 70 and the Chromecast Ultra costs $ 60, you will not save money on the hardware. For the first three months, you will receive $ 30 free access to the Stadia system. And the joy of knowing that you are ahead of all else, assuming you live in one of the 14 supported countries, and your home connection can process high-speed, low-latency videos.
… But it's not the true McCoy
Already at the Games Developer Conference in March, Google introduced Stadia as a revolutionary new platform that lets you play games anywhere and on any hardware. As it turns out, this does not apply at least to the introductory phase of the Founder Edition. In November, you can play on Chrome (Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS), a Chromecast (possibly just the Ultra), and Android phones, if you've bought a Google Pixel device from iPhone and iPad users in the cold, all too mentioning about a billion people who have Android phones that were not manufactured by by Google, I consider a deliberately limited choice. Google does not try to make purchases of its (frankly) overpriced phones, but to restrict mobile access to a relatively small pool of test users. The company wants to ease the tricky streaming business to relatively low-power devices over Wi-Fi and mobile connections, which are often not optimal, before it reaches a wider audience.
games will be available in a hybrid store system: their service charge of $ 10 a month covers some giveaways, similar to PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, while newer and more prestigious games need to be purchased at full price. If that seems a bit odd for a system that is supposed to be as open and available as possible, so it is. Just wait until 2020.
Next year, Google will release a free tier of stadia with streaming quality limited to 1080p. (The $ 10 monthly level has access to 4K resolution.) Games purchased from Stadia can be viewed at any time on both levels. The freebie games included in the $ 10 per month package will not be available, but Google is likely to try to extend support to other Android devices, iOS and iPadOS, and possibly even competing Smart TV systems like Roku.
True test is coming. If someone with just a few minutes and a controller can test your system for almost nothing, they'll suddenly get millions upon millions of concurrent players to see what it's all about.
It is no coincidence that 2020 is also when the next versions of Xbox and PlayStation appear. With a new option on existing hardware that can be tried for free and linked to Google's other popular services such as Chrome and YouTube, Stadia is ideally positioned to look like a giant dinosaur from a $ 300 to $ 500 gaming console to let webservices.
Whether Google can actually enforce that depends on many factors. We've outlined them before, and now that the pricing model and at least some of the major game releases are known, it's still not a slam dunk. The success of Stadia will continue to depend to a large extent on whether the new and unique system for games is released and whether Google can market it effectively.
But the Ultimate Test Thinks about whether Google can actually keep its promise of a seamless online game at a mere 10 megabits per second. Publishers and console makers find it hard enough in regular multiplayer mode, let alone experience constant high-speed streaming of every aspect of the experience. If anyone can, Google can – but it will probably take a while for the full-scale system to fix the kinks.
No need to rush: it does not even offer the most important exclusive products.
To sum up, you do not have to get into Stadia right away, especially if you already have a current game system. The platform offers no significant discount for the launch hardware and can be tested for free next year. (Generic controllers such as the Xbox One pad will definitely work on laptops and desktops, and possibly on cell phones.) Perhaps the most discouraging thing is that they do not offer any special exclusive games: there's nothing you can not play at Stadia, though You already have a good gaming PC, Xbox One or PS4.
It does not help that Google has not shown any major exclusive titles for Stadia, at least for the moment. Exclusive products are not popular with consumers – no-one likes to be excluded from experience – but for consoles and even PC platforms like EAs Origin or the Epic Game Store, this is an undeniable attraction. The PS4 has dominated this generation thanks to an impressive array of exclusive first- and third-party games. I have the feeling that developer Stadia is just as tentative as I recommend it to the consumers themselves. Porting a game to Stadia should be easy thanks to its comprehensive compatibility with development tools, but it's not free. Currently, the biggest titles that Google has announced for stadiums – Destiny 2, DOOM Eternal, Mortal Kombat 11, Borderlands 3 – already available elsewhere (or will be in the future).
You do not have to pre-order anything to know that you want to try Stadia and use a 4K-enabled Chromecast. However, if you are not sure you want to be there, it is best to wait: you will enter the Stadia only in the few months when it is least attractive and least efficient. And if Stadia, like so many Google services, is abandoned or forgotten, $ 130 should be better spent on a newer console or a few games.