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If Stadia works the way Google says it will, I'll never buy a console again

Stadia logo
Stadia logo (Image credit: Android Central)

I'm not old enough to have memories with consoles like the Nintendo 64 or Saga Saturn, but I've been a lover of video games since I can remember. My very first gaming system was the Gameboy Color, followed by the PlayStation 2 which I sunk waaay too many hours into as kid. Those were followed by the likes of the OG Nintendo DS, PSP Go, PS3, Xbox 360, etc. In other words, I really like video games. And honestly, who wouldn't? They're engaging, exciting, and one of the best forms of entertainment we have access to.

Like probably ever gamer out there, I was really excited to hear what Google had to talk about at its GDC press conference this past Wednesday. That conference is where Google announced its new game streaming service Stadia, and if it works out the way Google's saying it will, I may never buy another console ever again.

We have a big guide talking all about what Stadia is, but here's the quick rundown for anyone that may have missed the announcement — Stadia is a new service from Google that allows you to play video games by streaming them similar to how you watch shows on Netflix or YouTube. Because the games are streamed and not download files or on a disc, you can play big, AAA titles like Assassin's Creed and DOOM on a computer, smartphone, tablet, or a TV using a Chromecast. As long as you have access to a reliable internet connection, you'll be able to play.

The Stadia Controller

The Stadia Controller

Google says this will make games more accessible, and for the most part, it's right.

Before you can start playing anything, you need to either buy a console or gaming PC. Flagship systems like the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X cost around $400, and even if you go for something more affordable like the PS4 Slim or Xbox One S, that's still $200 - $300 you need to cough up. And, once you do have a console, there are the joys of waiting for games to install and downloading updates for them. With Stadia, the idea is that you can start playing instantly on any device you want with nothing to download, update, or install.

To be fair, Stadia is far from the first service of its kind. NVIDIA GeForce Now, PlayStation Now, Shadow, and Vortex are all trying to do the same thing — not to mention that Microsoft's also expected to announce something similar at E3 with Project xCloud.

The potential Google has with Stadia is unfathomable.

But even so, Stadia still has my interest more than anything we've seen. Google proved during its Project Stream beta late last year that it has the technology to make game streaming an enjoyable experience, and it's only gotten better since then. Google claims Stadia will offer gameplay at 4K and 60 FPS at launch, essentially giving it the performance of an Xbox One X. Later on down the road, Stadia will support 8K at 120 FPS. This next generation of consoles could do 8K at 120 FPS, but there's the age-old issue of needing to buy new hardware to get the best performance. With Stadia, you essentially have access to a system that's constantly improving without you having to go out and buy a new console every 5 years or so.

So, what's the catch?

There's still a lot Google's not telling us. We don't know how much data Stadia's going to eat up while playing, what games will be available, or even how much it'll cost. Will users need to spend $60 on titles as one-time purchases, or will Google offer a subscription-based model where you get access to a collection of games for a recurring fee? Right now, we simply do not know.

Those are some big questions that need to be answered, but if the library's there and the pricing model is fair, Microsoft and Sony are going to have a tough time making an argument as to why players should spend hundreds of dollars on their next consoles.

I'm interested to see what the PS5 and Xbox Two bring to the table, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I don't think I'll want to rush out and buy them to replace my current consoles. Stadia could end up being a complete dumpsterfire and not at all what we're expecting, but if Google manages to deliver on the promises it's making — which I think it will — it really does have potential to change the gaming industry as we know it.

Stadia hands-on: Big gaming promises and lots of unanswered questions

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

27 Comments
  • But if it works like most Google products it will be canceled as soon as you get invested in it. If I could stream games I already own it would be amazing. If you need to repurchase then no thanks.
  • Yup. Exactly what I'm thinking.
  • This is the real deal. I'm going to need to update my GPU every few years which is starting to cost $1000 just to play the latest games. If Google Stadia works than I have no problem paying them $10/mo subscription. They'll need to have a good trial thought to shut up all the haters.
  • Yeah, I don’t see myself dropping PS, Nintendo or Xbox any time soon, because they still offer a ton of features and experiences (exclusive titles, controllers, VR headsets, just to name a few) that won’t be available on Stadia. A $300-500 one time purchase is still in the realm of affordability, IMO. But if Google supports this completely and it has a large catalog to stream at the resolution and framerate they’re claiming, I could definitely see myself giving up PC gaming. GPU prices are through the roof these days, and the user experience and reliability just isn’t there to justify it.
  • Everything you mentioned will be available on Stadia, granted not the same exclusive titles but Stadio exclusives.
  • Has VR been confirmed? I can’t see that working well through a streaming service, people already have issues with motion sickness when their eyes and bodies don’t match 1:1, and that’s with the headset connected directly to your PC or PS4. And by controllers and exclusives, I meant those specific exclusives. The motion and touchpad on the PS4 controller are nice, the modularity of Switch’s JoyCons. And as for games, I want to play Zelda, Uncharted, Halo.. Google’s game development studios haven’t been proven yet, so as of yet it isn’t incentive to not buy a console.
  • In my case that would not be enough. Let's say they make it affordable and allow you to play tons of games. Even so, it will need speeds that right now I cannot afford to play comfortably. 30 mbps is too expensive right now to me, it would mean to pay almost twice my current fee. So as it may be posible to have such speeds, the price to pay to play in Stadia would be what googles charges plus what my ISP charges. And, that is my case, I have the option to upgrade, others just don't and others might already have it, but they also have a data cap. I hope the best to google with Stadia, I just don't think I'll be able to support (sadly since I also like gaming a lot).
  • That's probably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) hurdles for Stadia to overcome. I'm fortunate enough to have 400Mbps at a reasonable price where I currently live, so it won't be an issue in my case. However, growing up with DSL and 1 - 3Mbps download speeds, this is something that definitely would not have worked then.
  • Not sure I agree - I think we're at the point where unlimited inet access is no longer just for businesses or download freaks, it's becoming quite mainstream. I know in my city unlimited is no longer a single category - it's a range of services that is tied to speed(since on-demand is where the stress point is - they don't care about people downloading at 4am). I think the volume issue is shrinking, although I admit Stadia seems to assume your monthly bandwidth is not an issue for you.
    For me it's all about the pricing model and exactly what games will be there. They can only subsist on quoting Assassin's Creed and Doom so many times...
  • This is where I think 5G will come into play. It's just a matter of timing Stadia's launch relative to 5G's availability. But your point is still valid because even after 5G becomes available, it'll be a couple years at least before it's cost-effective.
  • Can anyone see big developers releasing AAA titles costing millions to create on a subscription service, where there will possibly be hundreds of games all demanding their cut. It will be a sub for the service with full charges for the games,
    Sony and Xbox dont have to worry because the millions of parents out there aren't going to give their kids free reign with direct debits etc for this and Santa doesn't leave codes for credit he leaves physical discs. Also Xbox 'two', do some research first, this will be Xbox FOUR .
  • The current generation of Xbox is "Xbox One". So it's well within the realm of strong possibility that the next gen might be named Xbox 2.
    Maybe the research should be done on your end?
  • I can’t see them going linearly like that though. I’d say it’s more likely that they just call it Xbox, with no subtitle.
  • I am looking forward to Stadia. As I have gotten older I have become more of a casual gamer due to time restraints. I cannot justify the cost to upgrade my pc build from 2012 to play the latest and greatest games and cannot justify spending $XXX for a console and $XX for a game.
  • You had better have an "Unlimited" data plan with your ISP then. Even playing a 1080p@60hz game will eat up your data plan pretty fast. 4K@60hz will crush it unless all you do it play for no more than 2 hours a day. Mom and Dad are going to get some nasty surprises on their ISP bills after the kids get Stadia and start playing ALL THE TIME moving from PC to Phone and back "seamlessly" as Google advertises. This is the problem with streaming gaming; The Data Plan is STILL controlled by the ISPs and they are the gatekeepers for it all.
  • Yep. It's like a never ending game download. A full game is 40+ GB. You'll basically be downloading parts of a game indefinitely as you play. Even if you play the same content over and over again you are downloading all the assets over and over as you stream it. The 1TB internet caps Comcast and others have will be obliterated by anyone other than a very casual gamer especially when you consider people use the internet for streaming tv and movies as well. And people will really see what "unlimited data" actually means if they try this on mobile data.
  • Personally, while the idea isn't new I also find it hard to get excited about the idea of having to rely 100% on my ISP to have a perfect gaming scenario. I already get cheesed as it is when PS Network or Xbox Live goes down and I can't play a game that I own (an actual physical copy of the disc in my console) just because there's network "issues". Mind you, I'd say I rarely experience internet outages in my area or service disruptions but I'm sure that's not everyone's case. If they can implement some type of "offline" mode that actually works whether it be with Stadia or next gen then to that's a true upgrade to this new streaming future we're catching up to. We all need to be able to still play our games, the ones we spent $30 or $100 on regardless of our internet being down or our console experiencing network issues.
  • My worry is console exclusives. They have lots of good content tied up. For me to play uncharted 2, I'll have to have a PS4, regardless on how good stadia is.
  • Google can't even get their Fiber rolled out completely which would help out immensely.
  • No way, a purely cloud based system sucks. I'll stick with a PC and console.
  • It's funny how uneducated most of the comments in this thread are. Speed is not an issue for game streaming, it's latencies. Look at where most data centers for google reside, and then look where you live. If you're too far away good luck even being a casual gamer. You actually thing google will invest upfront in data centers so they can deliver low latency content, don't think so. Other companies have tried the game streaming approach and it has failed, the technology is just not there yet. Won't be for a while. They just want the slice of the gaming pie, this is going to go the way of Google+. Unless google has some magic pill to make latency issues go away, good luck.
  • When you are streaming the game speed does matter as well though. You have to have fast enough internet to download the game data as you play. Google even says 25Mbps for 1080p which is faster than the average US internet connection. When the game data is installed locally then all that matters is latency.
  • But why subscribe to this when you can have Apple Arcade?
  • If you're old enough to remember the N64 and Saturn, then you're old enough to remember the massive latency spike with new HD TVs with the two generations after. If you're old enough for that, then you're also old enough to remember OnLive, and how everything on it that wasn't turn based or action-free was unplayable, or that everything on it is genuinely unplayable now that it doesn't exist. If you're old enough for OnLive, then you're old enough to know that the US's internet hasn't changed at all since then, even with Google's half-assed Google Fi. Hope you enjoy Flappy Bird for the year or two the service exists, that's all you're getting.
  • I'm the complete opposite. I like owning my games and still regularly play my original nes, snes...etc. I couldn't imagine settling for what amounts to renting my games and basically losing them if I decided to stop paying or when Google decided they don't want me to play anymore. Regardless of what Google says the input lag is also something that will never be acceptable over an internet connection. I can see how a very casual gamer might be ok with it but it's not for me.
  • I'm having a hard time getting excited about Stadia yet - my experience with internet connections of all stripes in all locations tells me this is going to be a comparatively poor experience compared with local hardware. If streaming gaming DOES take off - and there is enough money behind it that I'm guessing it will - I imagine that folks like me are going to want the soon-to-be-announced Microsoft offering because their game catalogue is already so good. Either way though, I'm keeping my mind open, just frequently referring to the same large chunk of salt I keep handy for product announcements on wearables or IoT products. Of course, that's assuming my internet connection options get better and my ISP raises their bandwidth caps. Right now this is a no-go for me no matter how good it is.
  • This comments section is why I'm excited for Project XCloud. Google is moving forward with a finished product (supposedly), but we still don't have any answers. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been focusing on how they're working to reduce latency and internet speed requirements to far lower than Stadia.