Stadia, Google’s new game streaming service, launched last week, 19 November, but is it worth investing in? Feedback has been mixed with some praise for the high fidelity of the streamed graphics, yet also many reports of grainy, laggy service. As predicted, pre-launch, people’s experiences seem to be varying, vastly depending on location and the quality of internet available to them. Those with 100mb connections are reporting excellent service with the graphics delivered visibly clearer and crisper than either of the currently available main consoles. However, many areas, particularly people in America, are struggling to get a good service, due to poor internet availability and capped data limits. For those with download speeds under 30mb the service appears to be more patchy and for those with data caps, it’s worth noting that the total downloads for an hour of service could get as high as 10gb. With those download rates, you could download the full game on a console for the equivalent data download of three to six hours of playtime on google Stadia, depending on the size of the game.
Even a week after launch, there are still a lot of features missing, such as: party chat, crowd play, buddy passes, screenshot sharing, video capture, achievement notifications, stream connect and 4k streaming to Chrome browser. Add to this the fact that in order to access the service at the moment, you will have to pay for the premiere Edition, at £119, and now does not seem to be the best time to dive in. A free version of Stadia is due to launch next year which will allow gamers to purchase their games on the platform and play them without any further costs.
Stadia may not have had the best start, but it is easy to see the potential the service has. Streaming is almost certainly going to be the future of all media including, eventually, gaming. Streaming video services are going from strength to strength with many large name providers plunging into the fray with their new platforms and, as internet services continue to improve, this sector will continue to grow. Stadia is well placed, if a little early, to make a big splash in the gaming industry, but as the years go on and internet services improve, there’s no doubt this could well prove to be a defining platform of the industry’s future.
So is it worth it? The answer is probably, not right now. The number of games available on Stadia is limited and many features are yet to be implemented. The service also currently has a pretty high entry cost, for a streaming service, at £119. For those who held off pre-ordering, unless you are gifted with high download speeds and you have not previous purchased some of Stadia’s launch titles, all available for other platforms, then it might be best to wait before taking that jump into the future. However, if you have 100mb download speeds and your consoles or pc are too outdated to play current gen titles then it may be worth giving Stadia a try. It may give you a decent, inexpensive, current gen entry point. Just check you don’t have any hidden data caps before you boot it up.