I last posted my thoughts on Google’s Stadia game streaming platform a few months back. At the time I commented on the fact that I thought that Stadia, or at least game streaming, may be the future of gaming. Although I had some reservations, backed up by many in the community, about its implementation at the time.
Now I am going to provide some updated thoughts on Stadia, and game streaming technologies in general.
Change is coming
A few things have changed within the Stadia, and overall gaming space since I last spoke about this. In April of 2020, just after the last post, Google made Stadia available for free. Removing the need for a pro subscription and allowing gamers to just buy the games that they want. No need even to shell out on a Chromecast Ultra and a controller, a user’s current PC or laptop is all that is now needed to play Stadia.
Of course; not having Stadia Pro does mean that you miss out on getting the monthly free games, along with some good discounts on others. Some of the time these feel as though they are worth the subscription price alone, although the biggest games on the platform still need to be purchased separately. Another benefit of paying for Stadia Pro comes if you are hoping to use a 4K television to play your games, as you are only able to output in 4K with a pro subscription.
A growing library
Stadia has also been slowly gaining traction with the release of some very strong games on the platform at the same time as more traditional consoles. The biggest, and most controversial, of these being Cyberpunk 2077. It has been well reported that Cyberpunk 2077 has had a rocky release; plagued with glitches and terrible performance on last-gen consoles. A lack of a true next-gen version at launch was also seen as a problem. The Stadia version though, seems to perform very strongly when compared to the other versions. Glitches aside; an issue with many new games these days unfortunately, I have personally had no issues with performance on Stadia with his title.
AC: Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, Manhunt 3, Red dead redemption 2 and the entire modern Tomb raider trilogy are all available on Stadia; showing the growing strength of the platforms line-up.
If Google can continue to encourage developers to release their latest and greatest titles on Stadia in the future, then I can see this platform going from strength to strength.
Improvements can be made
One place that I really think Google can improve Stadia and push it into a truly devastating gaming platform is the server side hardware. When Stadia was first announced it ran on hardware that was way stronger than the consoles it was competing against; this is no longer the case. With the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox series X, Stadia’s raw power superiority has been removed. It now sits roughly on a par with these new consoles. I can’t help but feel that Google should be able to allow developers to leverage far more power for their titles than it currently does and I’m sure, in time, that it will.
One of the big advancements in games over the last year or so has been that adoption of real time ray tracing, something that Stadia is sorely lacking at the moment when compared to all of its main rivals. These being PC, PS5, Xbox Series X; along with rival streaming service GeForce Now. This leaves Stadia feeling somewhat last gen compared to the competition in this regard.
Streaming is a growing force
These complaints are something that I am willing to overlook for the most part though, because I do believe that the platform will continue to evolve. I think that in time the hardware will become stronger. New technologies will be added. Most importantly I believe that the streaming quality for those users on more limited internet connections will continue to improve, thanks to the use of newer and more efficient compression techniques.
Game streaming has come on leaps and bounds in a very short period of time, and I would recommend those that were sceptical or on the fence about it a year ago to give it a go now. Unless you are used to gaming on a really high-end PC, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
One more thing, with no download requirements and instant patching, hopping into a new game on Stadia takes seconds from purchase. So, while you wait for the latest Cyberpunk patch to download and install I’ll be off racing around Night city with Johnny Silverhand.