I used to be a Stadia hater. That’s right, you heard me correctly. How can a The Stadia Life staffer possibly have been a Stadia hater? Simple really, I didn’t quite understand the technology and I didn’t think it was ready.
Before I get to the details about my “dislike” of Stadia, you need to understand one thing. My last experience or first, however you want to see it, was with OnLive back in 2011. OnLive was a Cloud Gaming Service that allowed subscribers to rent or demo PC games without installing them. Back in 2011 I had a capable PC, but was sucked into trying it because they offered a neat promo for new users. Any new user was able to purchase any game in their catalog for $5 regardless of the age of the game. Therefore, I signed up and grabbed the then new Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
My experience with OnLive was pretty rough to say the least. I played with a Keyboard & Mouse and you have to understand, this was during the DSL age, so the lag was extreme. After a week of trying it, I never went back to it because the tech wasn’t quite ready yet. From my experience, OnLive was ahead of its time, and internet speeds then, just weren’t ready for Cloud Gaming.
Then came Stadia. I recall hearing about Stadia (then Project Stream) in October of 2018. Google was touting the ability to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey via a Google Chrome browser. I remember thinking at that time that it would be impossible to play without any input lag and quite honestly believed that our net speeds wouldn’t allow for seamless Cloud Gaming. Therefore, as much as I wanted to give it a shot, I didn’t bother with it. I had a PS4 and Xbox One, so figured I had no need to try Cloud Gaming again.
Then Stadia launched in the US. I remember hearing the stories about their subpar launch lineup and half-baked features, which left many core gamers uninterested in the product. With an entry price of $130 that came with a Stadia Controller, Chromecast Ultra, and 3 months of Pro Access, it was a hefty price to pay to get a real taste of what Stadia had to offer. It just didn’t seem like an appealing deal to me at the time. Then came the memes, the jokes, and the puns around Stadia being a “failed” service. I have friends in the PC gaming space that thought Stadia was a wannabe competitor that failed to capture the gaming audience. They also felt like Stadia was going to go the route of “Killed by Google: Google Graveyard”. I have to admit, I partook in the jokes as I figured that Stadia competing with MS or Sony was nothing more than a pipedream. Moreover, I get it, Stadia didn’t have any killer apps or features that set itself apart, aside from Cloud Gaming, but that was perhaps all it really needed to begin with.
Fast forward to October of 2020. It was my birthday, I had some extra money, and so I decided I would purchase a Stadia Premiere Edition. The Stadia Premier Bundle had also dropped from the initial price of $129.99 to $99.99. It was what you might call an impulse purchase, but figured the price was finally right. I ordered the Stadia Premier Bundle on Google’s Store page and waited patiently for my kit to arrive. My overall impression of the controller was that it was very well made. It did not have the look and feel of a cheap PS or Xbox controller knock off; it had some girth to it, which I really appreciated. I booted up the Stadia App on my phone and followed the instructions on how to connect the Chromecast and Controller to my Wi-Fi. After I set it up, I booted up the Stadia App.
The first game that I played was Destiny 2 and I was immediately blown away. I went into it expecting that there would be input lag and latency issues, and I experienced zero. I played for about 2 hours that first day and I didn’t experience any lag, not once. It was at the end of my first experience that I realized Cloud Gaming was actually possible. Not only could I play games via the Cloud without any expensive hardware, other than my phone and Chromecast (You can also play via Browser), but these games started up instantly. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve jumped on my Xbox One wanting to play a couple of quick minutes before work or before bed, only to be bothered by an update... This is what Stadia has that no one else does. The games are already updated and ready to go with the press of a button or click of a mouse, instantly, on the go or at home. I was instantly sold on Cloud Gaming from the very moment I realized that this tech was possible on Stadia.
Since then, I’ve decided to support Stadia, not as my main source of gaming, but as a great secondary alternative. There are games available on Stadia that are not available on Xbox or PS4. Octopath Traveler being one of those that I always wanted to play, but could not because I didn’t have a Nintendo Switch. I’ve been subbed to Stadia Pro, which offers great free games for a low monthly fee of $10, for over 5 months now. This has continued to build my catalog to over 40 games, with a few purchases in between. Some great notables on the Pro Sub have made the purchase well worth it. Stadia features exclusives like Gylt and Pixel Junk Raiders, to AAA games like Cyberpunk and Resident Evil, that you can purchase rather than pay for a Sub. Regardless of your tastes for games, Stadia has something for everyone, especially for the low entry price point and ease of not needing dedicated hardware. I’ve spent countless hours playing on Stadia over my usual Xbox gaming sessions, due to the ease of starting a game instantly. There are many nights when my TV is occupied with a Hockey game or late night movie, so I pop open my Chromebook’s Chrome Browser or phone and begin playing. It’s these types of situations and solutions that really make Stadia what it is. Seamless.
With that being said, I’m glad that I gave Stadia a shot and would hope that other’s reading this, that have been curious about it, may do so as well. I’m excited to see what the Stadia Team has in store for us this year and for many more to come. Cheers.
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