Despite being somewhat marred by leaks, Google today announced plenty of details about their Stadia game-streaming, cloud-based service. It will allow you to stream games to your chosen device, up to 4K resolution and at 60FPS. There will be a two-tier service, one for a paid subscription and one for free subscriptions. There will also be a Founder’s Edition, featuring a Chromecast Ultra, a controller, Destiny 2, and three months of subscription to the service for you and a friend.
Many people had hoped that Stadia would make just a straight-up Netflix for gaming, but this is not the case. Your Pro subscription will get you access to a back catalog of older games, but new ones will need to be purchased, just like any other platform. No information was given about individual game pricing at this point. This the internet’s reaction them open to a potentially fatal blow if Microsoft decides to do anything crazy with their cloud service and the Game Pass, as Jason Schrier pointed out on Twitter.
So, yes, now that it’s official – this is the main reason I’ve been so skeptical of Google Stadia. A Netflix model would be one thing, but who’s going to buy games on a streaming-only platform? Microsoft has a great opportunity here to blow Google out of the water with Game Pass https://t.co/KakRLOA7qJ
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) June 6, 2019
One of the most interesting things about the internet’s reaction is that it is somewhat muted. Interest seemed reasonably low in the product, but I expected to see some kind of hyped-up opinion pieces after the reveal, but they simply didn’t seem to happen.
Absolutely no one:
Google: WOOOO! STADIA PRE-ORDERS ARE OPEN!
— Linus Tech Tips (@LinusTech) June 6, 2019
The majority of coverage just seemed to be based around the details like price, specs, and games that have been confirmed. While this will happen for every hardware reveal and is absolutely something we will see for the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles when they are revealed, you will also see a lot of opinion pieces about what people think about the products, and predictions about how well they will do.
Google Stadia is in an interesting position because there is no hardware to talk about. It is all dependent on internet connections, and it is almost impossible to predict if the people that Stadia appeals to will have the right kind of internet to take advantage of it. I was a little shocked to see that Stadia will launch in my own home country of Ireland until I realized that our generally beefy internet connections make it a great market for the product. I’m getting a real strong feeling that people still don’t really know how they feel about the service, and will have no way of knowing what to say until they experience it in action.
— ZebitasMartinex (@ZebitasMartinex) June 6, 2019
Some people are having fun with it, especially gamers out there who just don’t see the appeal of the product. Memes are starting to do the rounds, and the Twitter tradition of picking clips from shows that sum up their feelings is turning into a go-to response for some internet citizens.
the stadia is bad. the streaming future where you don’t actually own any of your media and nothing is permanent is bad. they just wanna sell you high speed google fiber so the games play marginally less shitty
— Bobby Schroeder (@ponettplus) June 6, 2019
Some people are also raising important points of concern about a move to a future where people don’t own games anymore in any way. You still pay for them, but cannot even download them, so if a game is ever removed from a service then you no longer have access to a product you paid for in any way. Bobby Schroeder, indie developer and creator of Super Lesbian Animal RPG was one of many people to bring up this concern. Others, such as games journalist Anthony McGlynn relinked to an older article he had written about various concerns with game streaming as a whole. The take away here is that for many people, not enough information is known about whether streaming is actually good or bad for the future of gaming, and for the way we interact with and own the things we pay for.
Over on Reddit, things were pretty muted, mostly with people just asking questions, saying what Stadia could do (but isn’t doing) to get them to buy in, or else just expressing a desire to wait and see how things would play out. By comparison, the Destiny 2 stream got vastly more attention, hitting number one on the sub. It is maybe not a good sign that Stadia, a gaming platform, failed to get traction on a subreddit where gaming discussion is the focus.
What really stands out to me is that nobody has called the service the future of gaming except Google themselves. Gamesradar did run a piece with some quotes from Jack Buser, Google’s Director of Games, who is unsurprisingly hyped about the service. In it, he says that he has seen Stadia do things that would be impossible on a PC, or a console. But, the simple truth is that WE didn’t. We saw a presentation for a streaming service that promises 4K and 60FPS, and the broadcast was a bit choppy. We saw a game library for $10 a month that is vastly smaller than the ones you get access to with Xbox and PlayStation services. We say a service that is entirely reliant on a third party, your ISP, to function.
If Google wants to get the world excited about Stadia, they need to show us all some of that magic. Until then, it appears we still don’t really know what to think about it.