Google wants to bring gaming to everyone, and it's doing that with its new Google Stadia streaming platform. With its custom server hardware, Google wants to render high-fidelity games and stream them to phones, tablets, and televisions. The company is also developing its own games with a new studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment.
With a little speculation, you can easily see some of the issues with Stadia. High-end gaming on PC, Xbox One X, and PlayStation 4 Pro is all about image quality, and streaming can introduce issues like frame rate drops, buffering, compression, and artifacts. Much of North America is lacking in robust internet connections, and those that do have to contend with issues like data caps. And we have no idea what something like Stadia costs, as Google was rather quiet on that front.
Most of these issues are front and center on the mind of the community, leading muted enthusiasm or outright skepticism. Some see Stadia as the logical next step for gaming in terms of technology.
Google's Stadia will inevitably have growing pains, but acting like it'll NEVER work is a myopic unimaginative caveman take. Gmail, YouTube, the iPad, Netflix and Steam seemed like impractical witchcraft initially. Think bigger. Video games used to only have wired controllers.— Max Scoville (@MaxScoville) March 19, 2019
Digital Foundry has tested Google Stadia in certain conditions for bandwidth and latency, but those aren't entirely real-world conditions. Many users with 4K televisions and YouTube still have trouble pulling down 4K video, sometimes defaulting to 1080p or 720p instead. Again, that's because North America and other regions don't have stable internet connections, or the bandwidth needed to support 4K content.
Your average consumer likely isn't rocking a 100Mbps+ connection, and in some parts of America such options aren't even available, limiting Stadia's potential reach.— Steve Bowling (@SteveMBowling) March 19, 2019
thankfully america has just the best internet infrastructure in the entire world, super high quality service across the country in all states, highly internet knowledgeable govt regulators, and all from isps that people trust will do best for the internet i believe in #stadia— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 19, 2019
Even those test units aren't performing up to snuff, with media folks reporting noticeable input lag. In her hands-off demo, our own Caty McCarthy noted that the demo itself had issues starting up in the first place. And that input lag means twitch-based games, including competitive first-person shooters or fighting games, will a no fly zone for Stadia.
Google: The Stadia will stream over a cloud service and have wireless controllers that will help eliminate (some) lag!Me, cool FGC guy w/rippling muscles: pic.twitter.com/v29GEQ4Ux5— RYYU | OSAP Ryyudo @ MiMas (@Ryyudo) March 19, 2019
tekken 7 on google stadia be like pic.twitter.com/n1MUlBDGjd— gbf(v) shill | pahchi (@dodonpahchi) March 19, 2019
And then there's the issue with ownership and game preservation. We have no idea whether you'll be able to purchase games directly or whether there will be a blanket subscription fee. Stadia games exist entirely on Google's server farms, meaning even if you purchase them, it's entirely possible that your game license can be revoked at any time.
Yeah, no thanks #stadia.I want to OWN the game. I want to know I can come back, insert, and play the game 30 years later. Physical copies are still important to me, cause it practically guarantees that I can play the game in the future. With proper care, of course.— Mr. Crunchberry (@MrCrunchberry) March 19, 2019
Google Stadia is launching 2019 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe, but that leaves out regions like Japan, China, the Middle East, Australia, and South America. That means while Stadia is a glimpse into the future, it'll be one that's not accessible to players in other parts of the world.
So Google unveiled their streaming platform today, Stadia. Promises 4k, 60 fps with minimal latency. As an Australian I would love to hear what you guys think because reading about it on Twitter is about as close as we'll ever get to using it.— Skill Up reviewing #TheDivision2 (@SkillUpYT) March 19, 2019
And as many, many people have noted, we've been here before. OnLive, PlayStation Now, Ouya, and the Nvidia Shield have all offered game streaming in the past. It hasn't worked because the infrastructure isn't there and the offerings aren't much better than traditional consoles and PCs.
Anyone remember On Live? I feel like it's a Scooby Doo villain wanting revenge haunting the world of tech every time something Cloud Gaming-related gets unveiled like the #Stadia pic.twitter.com/h11pVAeWEi— AlphaOmegaSin (@AlphaOmegaSin) March 19, 2019
Basically, there are a ton of questions that remain about Google Stadia. Stadia is launching sometime in 2019, and Google will be offering further information this summer. For more on Google's Stadia, stay tuned to our everything we know guide.