The first takes on Google Stadia, the internet giant’s new game-streaming service that debuts Nov. 19, are out. And the consensus is that Stadia is needed more time in the oven before it was served up to the gaming crowd.
Google’s big promise with Stadia is that players can access top-tier game titles without a console and without having to download them. The service includes 22 games at launch (after originally planning to go out with 12), including “Red Dead Redemption 2,” “Mortal Kombat 11,” “Destiny 2: The Collection,” “Kine,” “NBA 2K20,” “Final Fantasy XV” and “Rage 2.” The service costs $10 per month (after a three-month free trial) and is accessible on multiple devices, including TVs, PCs, and select tablets and phones.
To use Google Stadia on TVs, users must buy the Stadia game controller and a Chromecast Ultra adapter to play games on their TV screen. Both products are available in a $129 bundle. Google recommends a minimum 10 megabit per second broadband and 35 Mbps to access it in 4K.
The problems with Stadia? According to the early reviews, the service’s selection of games are still limited; many of the features Google promised aren’t in the initial version; and some found stability or performance issues with the service. Moreover, users must still pay for the games they access on Stadia — it’s not a “Netflix of games” subscription service like Sony’s PlayStation Now or Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.
“There is no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now,” The Verge’s Sean Hollister wrote in a review. He called it “effectively a beta that Google is charging real money for, and you should wait until 2020 for that to change” but added, though, that it’s “more reliable than any [game-streaming] service I’ve tested in a decade covering the technology.”
As noted by reviewers, features that are missing from Stadia include the ability to: start a group party in a game; live-stream gameplay to YouTube; or share purchased games with a subsidiary family account.
Right now, Google Stadia is “too limited and too unreliable, for too little benefit,” Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland wrote in his review.
Google’s “experimental” service also is expensive for what’s included, CNET’s Scott Stein wrote: “It all seems like a lot to pay for a ‘consoleless console.'”
Engadget’s Jessica Conditt encountered performance issues in playing “Destiny 2” on Stadia, with problems including stutter and input. “I wouldn’t play any of these titles competitively on Stadia, but the service is fine enough for a relaxing evening,” she wrote, adding “I barely expected Stadia to work.”
The main challenge for Google Stadia is that it will have “pull gamers away from three platforms they’ve grown up using: PCs, the Xbox and PlayStation,” CNBC’s Todd Haselton wrote in a review.
“Google has the foundation in place. There’s enough here for it to be really successful,” Haselton wrote. “Google Stadia is a look at the future of how we’ll game. I’m just not totally convinced it will be the service everyone pays for.”