How does Google Stadia compare to hardware gaming?

3 min read
Google Stadia booth at GDC 2019
Google presents Stadia, its game streaming platform, at the Game Developers Conference 2019 (By Official GDC0D5_2248, CC BY 2.0, Link)

The brand new Google Stadia cloud gaming service is officially coming on November 19. For the first time after the unexpected Match announcement, Google has finally released some more details about their “future gaming beta.”

The GamesMojo team collected all available data on the topic to evaluate Stadia’s chances to compete or maybe even beat the traditional hardware gaming. And it’s incredibly promising, but is a real revolution possible?

Netflix of games?

This popular analogy sounds great, but it’s not totally true because as the technical details show. Unlike Netflix, which provides customers with access to their content library under terms of subscription, Stadia has a different focus. According to Google’s director of games, Jack Buser, Google intends to sell games and keep the same prices as good old PSN, Steam, Xbox Live, Epic Store, and alike.

So what is the difference between the usual platforms and Stadia? Similarly to Netflix, you’re not required to purchase a specific device to play a game. You can create an account from the Chrome browser, using any computer nearby or other compatible devices (see below).

Cross-save wonder

Bungie’s upcoming huge hit, Destiny 2, is now coming to Stadia for sure, and there’s a thing that makes it an outstanding flagship title. It’s called cross-saving. This function enables your Stadia account to synchronize save files with your Xbox One or PC.

This technology could provide users with unprecedented comfort. But we don’t really believe that Google can come to terms with PlayStation and Nintendo. These console giants are famous for their emphasis on unicity. Moreover, their user bases are incredibly large and supportive, so Google must have a very strong argument to convince everyone to do business together. But even if they manage to hammer out a deal, the PC and Xbox integration alone is groundbreaking.

What about the money?

At first glance, the idea of giving up hardware seems to be advantageous in all financial aspects. It allows manufacturers to stop producing cumbersome hardware components for PCs and consoles.

It means two things: a slight reduction in carbon emission in China, and AAA gaming cost reduction. But what do we have in reality?

To become a member of Stadia at its launch, you must have any PC with the latest Google Chrome installed, a Chromecast Ultra connected to a TV, a Pixel 2/3/3a/4, or one of several Chromebook versions.

It wouldn’t be fair to take prices on computers, smartphones, and TV boxes, because almost everyone has at least one of them. Stadia’s project manager Andrey Doronichev says that the final goal is to reach every single platform that can play online stream well enough for comfort play. The next milestone is to involve as many Android-powered devices as possible. That requires a specific certification, so it may take some time. We also don’t take factor in the pricing of internet providers because doesn’t really matter.

What will actually cost you money, are the Stadia controller ($69), and the Pro Subscription ($10 per month). Without complicated calculations, you can see that it’s much cheaper than buying a console. Even if you decide to get it with the limited Founder’s edition ($129), it’s still cheaper than a PS4 Slim (around $280 on Amazon). The monthly subscription will also include free titles, similar to Xbox Live. The rest of the game roster will cost you the same as on any other platform. The verdict: Stadia will save your money in any case.

Are there any good games?

Definitely yes. The list of confirmed games as of October 15 includes 40 titles, including a handful by Bethesda, including Cyberpunk 2077, Metro Exodus, and Red Dead Redemption 2; five titles by Square Enix, including Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11; nine games by Ubisoft, and many more.

In addition, Doronichev mentioned that Google is working on a line of proprietary games. But we can’t take that into consideration before we see the results. As history shows, Google knows how to disrupt things. It will be awful if they port Android games, or hire mobile copycat developers to flood the platform with all those “dash,” “run,” “jump,” and “rush” titles.

Conclusion

Can you stop for a second and imagine that you can play the beautiful Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2, or Cyberpunk 2077 on your smartphone, tablet, and low-end laptop? It sounds too good. Google deserves lifetime praise for such an opportunity, and if it works out in the end.

The moment of truth is so close that it makes us feel like it’s Christmas tomorrow. The price is sweet, and the promises are unbelievable, so we just have to wait and hope that Google doesn’t fail to make Stadia be as badass as it looks on paper. The revolution is possible, but there are so many “ifs” and pitfalls that anything can go wrong.

The best possible result for Stadia is to become a competitor of consoles. At the same time, beating them doesn’t seem realistic because of a large number of platform-exclusive titles.

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