Google’s Stadia just ain’t it

Google’s game streaming platform Stadia is finally here. I’ve had a chance to play around with the Founder’s Edition. It has the Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, and a charger with a USB cable you can also use to plug into your PC or laptop for playing inside of a Chrome browser. Most of my experiences using Stadia have left me a little more.

The Stadia service works pretty well. Redeeming the codes for games and immediately without download waits was such a change. As someone who has to regularly wait for patches to download to get installed when all you want to do is play the games.

In order to play on your phone or on a Chromecast Ultra, you’ll have to have the Google Home app, set the device up, and tie it to your personal account. The entire setup will be handled through the app itself, which worked pretty painlessly. You can cast games from your phone onto your TV the same way you’d cast a YouTube video. Using the app, you can also have a game you’re playing on your TV shift instantly onto your phone. It actually works really well.

I really can’t find a strong selling point for playing games that you can largely get on other platforms already for around the same price. Stadia’s for tech-savvy people, but it’s likely they already own an easier way to play these games.

The $129 Founders Edition gets you in the door for cheaper than other consoles, assuming you already have a TV, a computer or a Pixel phone at home. But the launch lineup leaves much to be desired with only 22 games, and all but one of the original 12—except for Gylt—have been available on other platforms for some time now.

None of these games are particularly impressive as launch titles. That’s where Stadia really fails to impress, and it’s a big sore spot. Google says more games are coming by the end of the year, but this seems like a soft launch to get ahead of the shiny new consoles coming next year.

On launch, Stadia won’t have some of its major social features like Stream Connect or Crowd Play. That’ll come next year, according to Google. Stadia doesn’t have an achievement system, current Chromecast Ultras won’t run Stadia, no family sharing, no buddy passes (sorry to ya mans) and some “Founders” won’t even get theirs until late November or early December.

Ultimately, I’m left feeling lukewarm on Stadia. Playing in Chrome caps your resolution to 1080p, it’s not really wireless with your phone, and there are a ton of missing features that people will just have to wait for.

However you feel about what a streaming service like Stadia could mean for game preservation or the modding scene, it’s hard to deny we’re heading in that direction. It won’t happen tomorrow. The Stadia feels like a step in that direction. It’s tough for a console to make a good first impression, so I’m not counting it out just yet. In the meantime, I’ll keep playing most of my games the way I already do on my plastation or Xbox.

Stadia Launch Games Pricing

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – $59.99 ($30.00 Stadia Pro Deal)
Gylt – $29.99
Just Dance 2020 – $49.99
Kine – $19.99
Mortal Kombat 11 – $59.99 ($41.99 Stadia Pro Deal)
Red Dead Redemption 2 – Launch Edition – $59.99
Samurai Showdown – $59.99
Thumper – $19.99
Shadow of the Tomb Raider – $59.99
Rise of the Tomb Raider – $29.99
Tomb Raider 2013 – $19.99 ($10.00 Stadia Pro Deal)
Final Fantasy XV – $39.99 ($29.99 Stadia Pro Deal)
Special Editions:

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Stadia Ultimate Edition – $119.99 ($60.00 Stadia Pro Deal)
Mortal Kombat 11 Premium Edition – $89.99 ($62.99 Stadia Pro Deal)
Red Dead Redemption 2 Special Edition – $79.99
Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultimate Edition – $99.99

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