It’s fair to say that Google Stadia hasn’t lit the world on fire. Despite a promising technical test and the deep coffers of one of America’s largest companies, the tech has been underwhelming and the library is anemic. This would be a problem for any new emerging technology, but a weak launch can be course-corrected given enough time. For Google, that time is running short now that Microsoft has announced its own, much more robust streaming plans and is leveraging the Xbox brand to do it.
Due to some combination of curiosity and poor impulse control, I bought both an OnLive and a Stadia Founder’s Edition at launch. Streaming has always been a fascinating concept, and I’ve wanted to see it firsthand, for better and for worse.
Stadia has failed to impress. Pro customers get discounts and a couple of free games, but other promised features like 4K output have been inconsistent. (Google pointedly blamed developers for this.) When Stadia does announce a new slate of games coming to the service, it’s often ones that have already been out on other platforms for months. It has precious few exclusives. The promise of Stadia is to play anywhere, but I don’t travel all that often even in the best of times, much less in the midst of a global pandemic. To top it all off, the games on Stadia are full-priced, often going for the standard price on other platforms, sometimes long after other platforms have offered significant discounts for older games that are marked as “New Releases” on Stadia.