Google Stadia, the tech giants highly-anticipated game streaming service, launched today for Premiere Edition early adopters, and reviews for the service thus far seem to be mixed. While most are praising Google’s innovative play-it-your-way approach to gaming, others have voiced serious concerns regarding performance, even with higher-end setups and broadband connections.
Yet, while we’ve yet to see if Stadia can truly live up to the hype on the end user’s side of things, game developers seem to already be sold on the project. A few days prior to release, GamesRadar reached out to a few industry insiders and was apparently offered some very positive opinions regarding Google’s approach to game development.
Gwen Frey, the developer behind the recent indie puzzler Kine, seemed to have nothing but praise for Stadia. “It’s the best of PC and the best of console,” she said. “One specific set of hardware, but it's not limited by a specific box. Consoles are a pain in the ass.”
We’re not entirely sure what she meant here, but it sounds like Frey was pretty eager to tout Stadia’s hands-off approach to hardware. A platform that removes the need to constantly update your hardware allows for a larger audience and makes the creator of games easier for developers.
David Canela, Project Lead behind the Stadia-exclusive title Gylt, said that, "...the fact you’re only streaming video from servers, lag for online games is reduced a lot.” Clearly, many developers love the platform.
Yet, major publications like The New York Times and Kotaku have recently voiced skeptical opinions of the service. Paul Tassi of Forbes was particularly critical, complaining of constant frame rate issues and declaring games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Tomb Raider to be nearly unplayable via Google’s setup. This claim was then backed up with a video showcasing just how astoundingly poorly MK11 actually ran.
“You have 80% of a session going fine, but then the last 20% would suddenly lurch you into dropping, stuttering territory. And, in most games, all it takes is one hiccup to make you pay dearly,’ Tassi said of the platform’s issues, and we’re inclined to agree. While perceptible input lag and occasional frame drops may not inhibit some less-sensitive gamers, seasoned Mortal Kombat veterans would almost certainly find the experience to be completely unplayable.
Here’s a Mortal Kombat Stadia cutscene recorded on my TV (sry for quality) so you can see the kind of stuttering and sync issues I’m talking about pic.twitter.com/OzmOPraZgh— Paul Tassi (@PaulTassi) November 18, 2019
So, is Google Stadia the “best of PC and the best of console,” as some have claimed? Though the potential is there, it seems like this so-called future technology remains a bit too far ahead of its time. In reality, most of the developers who’ve praised Stadia worked directly on games now available on the service. Cloud streaming could be the primary method of game delivery down the road, but in 2019, we don’t seem to be there quite yet.