Disclaimer: This isn’t my personal experience with Stadia as I’ve haven’t tried it myself, either during it’s beta phase or in its current state.
xCloud and Stadia comparisons: xCloud currently only streams to phones and tablets running Android and is in a preview phase. Stadia has had a preview phase, which was available as an invite-only beta, using Google Chrome and playing Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and is now a released product and service.
In summary the problem with Stadia is that:
- Google charged money.
- Over promised and under delivered.
When I watched the Google Stadia announcement I have to admit I was skeptical but hopeful. As with most technology press conferences it was extremely well polished, clean and full of promise. What was announced didn’t necessarily seem out of reach in the near future to those with enough bandwidth, but it did seem unclear who exactly the service was for in the here and now. To me, it felt like Google setting themselves up for the future. They certainly understand infrastructure (and advertising, for that matter) but they aren’t generally associated with the video game industry.
The launch of Stadia looked from the outside to be muddled and unclear. The initial list of games available at launch was small, but it appears that at the last minute a few more to the list. The early backers of the service weren’t getting their emails with codes or controllers on the day of launch despite pre-ordering, and then others who ordered more recently were getting theirs.
Google were quite boastful about the capabilities of Stadia at launch, but since then a lot of features have been pushed back to ‘shortly after launch’ or 2020 and the current games don’t appear to be performing as well or looking as good as Google said they would. Recently Google released a statement commenting on this and putting the responsibility of this on the developers, which seems like a bit of a backstab to the devs who are supporting the platform at launch.
The free version of Stadia is going to be available later in 2020. I feel Google are using this time as a beta phase, and charging people for the opportunity to be testers. I think Stadia might well be worth waiting for and trying out for free, although that only means no monthly subscription, you’ll still have to buy games individually and separately, unless they make some changes.
Google are not a small startup (remember OnLive?) and haven’t been for well over a decade now, and yet they (and other large corporations worth billions of dollars) still behave and launch products like they are ‘a scrappy startup’ and ‘still figuring things out’. Game streaming tech is new and I fully believe they are still figuring it out, and that’s fine in itself. The only comparison between xCloud and Stadia that I’m going to make here is that xCloud didn’t go and boast about how amazing and revolutionary it is and charge money for the privilege of helping them figure it out and test it. Hopefully Stadia does become something great and introduce new people to gaming, but Google’s track record on supporting products isn’t great.