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Google Stadia reviews are in, and the service is getting roasted

Stadia controller
Stadia controller (Image credit: Android Central)

Google's anticipated game streaming service Google Stadia releases tomorrow and early impressions have already gone out. While we haven't been able to test it out for ourselves — you can expect a proper review from us sometime later — most members of the press appear to think Stadia wasn't ready to hit the market just yet.

Vice's Patrick Klepek spent a week with the service and said it is "At times, a disaster. At times, a revelation," and encouraged people to stay away for now. His full review details that he tested out Stadia in less than ideal environments, like at a Starbucks, but emphasized that the purpose of Stadia is to work for people in these environments.

When he described using it at home, he said, "It's a service with a crappy UI and without games, but it works!" And for those who opt to do this, you'll need to be wary of data caps as Stadia can eat up to 20GB in an hour streaming at 4K.

A presentation of the devices Stadia can run on

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Others, like Polygon's Chris Plante, called Google's decision to release Stadia today "a colossal mistake." It may be praised years down the line, but it is far from living up to its potential. Plante's current pitch for Stadia is even more damning.

Here's my pitch for Stadia at this moment: a digital storefront from which players can purchase games to stream on certain compatible devices with a number of complicated, sometimes confusing, limitations. This isn't a subscription service that unlocks hundreds of free games like Xbox Game Pass, nor is it as feature-rich as Sony's streaming service PlayStation Now. Players need to buy each game on Stadia at retail prices.

But we all knew this going into it. Google wasn't hiding what this service was. It just looks like after trying it out, most people are finding that the situation was as bad as it sounded. The good news is that some reviewers tended to not notice input lag when running at recommended internet speeds, though Plante did encounter brutal slowdowns and visual stutters. I guess take the little victories where you can.

However, Wired's Jess Grey stated in her review that input lag was noticeable while playing Mortal Kombat, making the fighting game an odd choice to include in its launch lineup. Grey was a bit warmer to the service than some others, but still recommended that people wait to try the free version instead of spending $129 on the Founder's Edition.

As for VentureBeat, Jeff Grubb actually considered Stadia to be a win for Google. The service worked consistently for him, and the worst he could say was that playing Mortal Kombat online felt a bit off.

It's proven that it can work in perfect conditions, meeting and even exceeding expectations. But no one is going to be playing in a perfect environment. That's not the service that Google got on stage and sold when Stadia was first revealed. It has a long way to go before becoming a viable product. Stadia is a service released too soon for its own good, but it may have helped propel the game streaming revolution.

The general consensus appears to be that Google Stadia still feels like just a beta, as The Verge put it, and not a particularly good one. When it works, it works well, but those moments are few and far between. Coupled with a meager launch lineup of games and missing features, it's hard to tell who the service is really for.

Jennifer Locke
Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke is Android Central's Games Editor and has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.

13 Comments
  • I've just spent an hour or so watching reviews and thought they were pretty positive on the whole. It's not really a surprise that the quality of a cloud-based service is dependent on the quality of your connection.
  • Google is new at this. I've been playing XCloud for the past two weeks off an on and the latency is definitely better there than what I've seen from Stadia. These things take time and experience to get good. I just hope they don't cut it before it has had a chance to mature and become a viable service, but I don't think many people will subscribe to this initially due to the inherent issues.
  • Surely no one is surprised Google released a beta product?? They always do that
  • I was just told that I am outside of the cancellation window...and have to send it back.
  • Curious how reviews are coming in for a service that has not launched yet. Those that have used / reviewed the service , were they playing on a beta connection / service ? Most of the reviews I have seen have been pretty positive.
  • Google set a review period and issued review hardware. Since it's an ongoing product there really shouldn't be a 'beta' connection, Google should be doing their best to ensure the service is running tip-top at all times, review period or not. Given some of the reviews thus far, they still have plenty of work to do.
  • Dunno what "Jennifer" has seen but I've seen positive reviews. People who are surprised you have to purchase an individual game, are either incredibly stupid or just ignorant. Probably both.
  • A real review of a product that is relevant to prospective purchasers cannot be conducted before the actual release, especially as there could be updates on the server side or firmware for controllers, etc, that may not have been enacted but would before the first purchased unit makes its way to the buyer's hands. There's usually some red flags in reviews that signal it as one to be taken with great skepticism. The first in this one was asserting the opinion based (partly) on another reviewer who "tested out Stadia in less than ideal environments, like at a Starbucks, but emphasized that the purpose of Stadia is to work for people in these environments." Google has made it pretty clear that there are very specific bandwidth requirements, and it signifies that the referenced reviewer is out-of-touch to think Google is designing this for someone to get the prerequisite bandwidth when on a public network sharing limited bandwidth with a large number of other people. It may be awful, it may be great - I tend to read most reviews, but end up depending most on the opinion of the one reviewer who shares my personal criteria for what a product/service needs to be viable for me - me.
  • "The general consensus appears to be that Google Stadia still feels like just a beta..." Sums up many Google products and services.
  • @sublimaze Really? Would like me to list all of the second rate products and services Microsoft have canned in the past few years? Imagine being so inept as Microsoft is and having to kill your browser and entire mobile phone efforts just to name a couple.
    Even more embarrassing for Microsoft is then embracing Chromium and Android. Microsoft is the very epitome of a company that releases pointless dead end products that are doomed to fail. Next up for Microsoft to kill will be W10X and the Neo. Duo will live because it is Android and has developers willing to support it unlike X and Neo.
  • Errm.... He was talking about Google...??
  • It's ok they will just cancel it in 8 months anyways. 
  • Got my Stadia yesterday. After I hooked everything up and started playing I realized why they might have included a CCU with it. Nobody wants to have to switch to game mode on their TV every time they want to play. It is better to hook the extra CCU up to a different port and set that port to Game mode.