Six months ago, right as Google's Stadia announcement wrapped up, I pre-ordered the $129 Founder's Edition as soon as I could. Stadia's concept of allowing you to play AAA-quality console games on virtually any screen still sounds like a pipe dream, but that's precisely what Stadia is promising.
Google quickly received a lot of criticism for Stadia as soon as it was unveiled, and that criticism has continued in the months following. I'm immensely hopeful for the future of the service and how it'll change the gaming industry as we know it, but even so, that wasn't enough to stop me from canceling my Founder's Edition pre-order.
There are a few factors that went into that decision, and today, I want to briefly touch on all of them.
As I just mentioned above, Stadia's main selling point is that it'll allow you to play games on a variety of screens — including your TV, laptop, phone, and tablet. That's the concept that initially sold me on Stadia in the first place, but from what we've seen so far, there will be some restrictions (at least at launch) that could really spoil the experience for a lot of potential users.
The requirement that you need a Chromecast Ultra to play Stadia on a TV doesn't bother me too much, but the fact that Google's only mentioned its Pixel devices for Android availability does have me worried.
At launch, Stadia will work on the Pixel 3/3 XL and 3a/3a XL. While those are great phones, Google's decision to limit such a groundbreaking service to its own hardware is disheartening. The company has said that "more devices will be made available in the future," but that doesn't answer anything. I regularly switch between a OnePlus 7 Pro and Galaxy Note 10 as my daily Android phones, and as of right now, I have no idea when they'll be able to work with Stadia.
Google's promise of playing on any screen isn't shaping up the way I was expecting.
Similarly, iOS support is just as uncertain. While I do love Android, I also enjoy dipping my toes in the Apple ecosystem to see what the other side has to offer. Along with my other handsets, I also carry around an iPhone 11 Pro as my primary iOS devices and use an iPad Pro as my "laptop" for working while on the go. Stadia will work on iOS at some point, but Google has yet to give any concrete date for when that'll be.
So, of the four mobile devices I'm currently using, none of them will work with Stadia when the service launches — effectively canceling out the initial draw to the service that captivated me in the first place.
Moving right along, the game library we've seen so far for Stadia has been, frankly, disappointing. There are some big names on board, including the likes of Borderlands 3, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Destiny 2, and NBA 2K20, but compared to the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, it's an astonishingly small list.
None of the Call of Duty games are anywhere to be seen (including Modern Warfare), there isn't a single EA title yet (that means no Apex Legends, Battlefield, FIFA, or Madden), Rocket League is MIA, the list goes on. Jeez, even Minecraft and Skyrim — two games that are seemingly available on every platform imaginable — don't have a planned launch on Stadia.
This is something that'll be subjective for everyone as each person has their own gaming preferences, but it's going to take a long time for Stadia to build up a library that can compete with existing platforms. I understand that Stadia is still in its infancy and a lot can change in the coming months, but the Day One collection of games that should draw and excite people into signing up for Google's service just isn't cutting it for me.
Last and but not least, there's the issue of data caps for home internet services.
This is something I wasn't initially concerned with as I was a Spectrum customer, and even though I probably shouldn't have, I overlooked this critique and didn't worry about it the same way other people were. However, now that Xfinity has purchased the exclusive rights to my apartment complex and I was forced to sign up for its internet services, things have changed.
Right now, which ISP you have can make or break your decision to get Stadia.
Xfinity enforces a 1TB/month data cap here in Michigan, and when I had Xfinity at my old apartment, I regularly hit 500 - 700GB without doing any game streaming.
When using Stadia at its highest possible quality (4K at 60fps), it'll eat up 15.75GB every hour. That means I'd only be able to use Stadia for 65 hours every month (around two hours per day) before factoring in all of my other internet usage, such as video streaming, web browsing, uploading images for work, etc. 1TB of data might sound like a lot, but when you start to add everything up, you quickly realize that it isn't, and it's not even remotely conducive for game streaming.
Canceling my Stadia pre-order was not an easy decision, but it's the only one that made sense to me. I'd be happy to give the service another shot once Android and iOS support is expanded upon, the game library matures, and ISPs decide that data caps for home internet are asinine, but until then, I have to part ways with Stadia and wish it the best of luck.
Stadia on the big screen
The only way to experience Stadia on your TV.
Stadia is almost here, and if you want to play it on your TV, you'll need a Chromecast Ultra. Along with bringing your gaming experiences to the big screen, the Chromecast Ultra also allows for 4K video streaming and can be controlled via the Google Assistant.
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