Gamers React to Google Stadia, Worry About Internet Connections and Data Caps

Gamers React to Google Stadia, Worry About Internet Connections and Data Caps

The next gaming platform is coming, but the community wonders if the promise will meet reality.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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