Were you excited for Google Stadia? A promise of gaming anywhere on any device, regardless of specs. It's a lofty vision that Google sold, and one that certainly seems far off from what we got in reality. The service still has a long, long way to go before it can be a viable product for the masses.
Now before I really begin, I'd like to present a live look at the Google Stadia offices:
Google just can't catch a break. First we found out shortly before launch that Stadia would launch with only 12 games, which was quickly bumped to 22 games after Google heard outcry regarding the sparse offerings, because apparently the numbers and release dates are arbitrary and it can pull games out of a magic hat whenever it'd like. Google said developers wouldn't need to do anything special to get existing games to work on Stadia, anyways. Then we found out it would be missing several crucial features upon release. And after release, players discovered that it was causing their Chromecast Ultras to overheat and turn off — one of the few devices at launch that supports Stadia.
And let's not forget that due to a translation error or ill-informed social media intern, Stadia Pro members thought (for at least a few hours) that they would not be able to keep any games that they bought using their Pro exclusive discounts. This turned out to be false — you will be allowed to keep all games bought with a discount using a Pro membership even after your subscription lapses — but the damage of misinformation circulating around has been done. You can't erase that. Misinformation spreads like wildfire on the internet.
To put it into perspective, this was an important launch for Google that could have revolutionized the gaming landscape, and the response has been… quiet. Aside from people outright roasting the service immediately before and after launch, talk about Stadia has kind of fallen off. People just aren't discussing it. Now more than ever, people's attention and time are fleeting. To not be able to capitalize on word of mouth in a big way is disconcerting. Unless you're a huge video game fan who already follows the industry, you probably haven't even heard of Google Stadia, much less know what it is.
Nothing quite sums up Stadia's launch like this statement from Russell Holly in our review:
Out of the box, you get a Founder's Edition Stadia Controller, a charging cable with wall plug, and a Chromecast Ultra. The USB cable in the box is USB-A on one end and USB-C on the other end, which is an odd decision when the only phones supported by Stadia right now all use USB-C to charge it just like the Stadia Controller. That means, instead of including a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, which is something Google already does with its Pixel phones, Stadia makes you go look for another cable if you want to connect the controller to your phone to play.
Google's problems are only going to get worse the more it deflects The company said that ISPs will solve for those pesky data caps. That developers are the reason games aren't streaming at 4K. But those are both issues that Google needs to handle. Not the other way around. It can't absolve itself from blame and hope for the best.
But don't underestimate the service just because of its botched launch. It is by no means dead on arrival. Google is treating it like a live service that continues to evolve, and it could become amazing with the right support. It just isn't right now. The service quality is hit or miss at best, and that's a far cry from the vision that Google sold when it first announced Stadia.
It certainly wouldn't be the first platform to stumble at the start. Microsoft reportedly spent $1.15 billion to fix the Xbox 360's infamous Red Ring of Death. Let's just hope Google Stadia can find its place near the finish line.
Stadia Founder's Edition
For anyone looking to be a glorified lab rat and test tech before it's ready
This bundle includes everything you need to get started with Google Stadia like the controller, Chromecast Ultra, Destiny 2, and three months of the Stadia Pro subscription for you and a friend. It's a great way to begin your game streaming journey. But be aware that it is far from a finished product.