Tech Reaction — Google Stadia — one more subscription and platform

screenshot from the stadia dev website

Anytime a new platform is announced, no matter who does it, I always get excited. That developer instinct kicks in. There are so many platforms these days. New ones are announced and old ones die. The tech life cycle. I may never end up working on these platforms but it is good to know. The Stadia announcement is exciting from that perspective, despite my personal non-preference towards all things by Google.

In addition to that, I recently picked up a gaming PC, an Xbox One and a PS4. That makes me a serious gamer ( I think, he he :P ). Stadia might end up becoming as big as Xbox and Playstation brands a few years from now. As a gamer, this is exciting for me.

Netflix for gaming, kinda

Stadia, in essence, is netflix for gaming. I am already subscriber with Xbox Game Pass. In fact, at E3, Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which combines Game Pass plus Xbox Live and probably their streaming service too) which is cheaper and better. That is also, kind of like, netflix for gaming. With Game Pass you can pick from a collection of titles (like you would, from a old school DVD store or a library) and just install it, and play it. On both, Xbox and PC. That’s Game Pass. I like it because, sometimes, I just want to game and dont feel like owning every game.

Game Pass works for me.

Stadia is, almost a direct clone of Netflix, but for games. Here, we have a collection of games like GamePass but we skip the installation part. I got a good internet speed. I can be gaming in an hour or 3 hours, depending on how big the game is. Once installed, I can play offline and without internet as well. With Stadia, we skip the installation part and go straight to gaming. By definition, we are assuming a continous, and high speed internet connection.

It is perhaps, because of that requirement (high speed internet), Stadia is not available in India. I cannot even access the Stadia consumer site (the dev site, of course, is accessible) from Mysore. It will eventually make its way to India but not right away. Facebook, for example, still does not sell its VR products in India and that device has been around for ages.

Obviously, Stadia is not the only person trying to do this. Years ago, there was this company called OnLive which tried to do it. It folded after a while. PS Now, from Sony leverages the PlayStation brand, also does the same thing, as Stadia and has been doing it for years. Its not shut down yet, which means, the on demand/cloud gaming technology is viable. to some extent. It is also not available in India, as I write this.

Video On Demand Vs Gaming On Demand

Unlike video streaming (YouTube, Netflix or Hotter), gaming is much more interactive. Games like Civilization dont really care if things are done fast. However, games like Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2, need quick reactions based on input. While in a multiplayer game, the expected reaction times are even higher. Thats what we call latency. high latency can ruin the whole point of gaming.

I am going to assume that Google has figured out a way to solve it.

Pay and Pay Again?

What bums me out, is that, there are way too many subscriptions these days. Last month, I realized that I am paying for so many monthly subscriptions I decided to cancel Netflix and PlayStation Plus, decided to stop signing up for more subscriptions. There is a free tier (loaded with ads, I assume. This is Google after all) but all the good stuff will be locked up behind the premium tier, I think.

On top of that, we still have to pay for games that you want to play. The monthly fee is primarily to enter the world of Stadia but games have to be picked up for an additional price. I am sure, once Stadia goes commercial, some free games will be added (similar to Xbox Game Pass) and become more like Netflix.

Thats weird. You pay for the service, and again pay for the games. That came out of nowhere.

Proprietary Controller, why?

Google is very clear that it wants people to pay for their Stadia controller. I think, other controllers, are supported. Off the shelf controllers that are already available for android and PC. Obviously, I assume, Xbox One and PS4 controller will also be supported.

Still, there is no official support for Xbox and PS Controller. That is a major oversight. These things are designed and have evolved over 15 years and more. Thats a lot of engineering work, consumer feedback, availability, support and easy to use. Microsoft and Sony, are fairly cool companies. I dont think they would mind if Stadia wants to provide outright support to their controllers. Thanks to their popularity, there is also a lot of low cost alternatives available too.

Just last week, Apple said, iPhone and iPad will start supporting these two controllers. Apple, one of the most closed companies ever, is opening up.

Google cannot outright support Xbox and PS controller? Thats baloney!

I am hopeful, they will eventually add official support to Xbox and PS controller. I think Google will listen to consumer feedback. I think, they will.

Final Thoughts

I like Xbox Game Pass. The last game I really wanted to buy and play was Red Dead Redemption 2 and that was six months ago. I paid full price, and did not even wait for the game to go on sale or anything. Since then, I just play games that come from free every month or just pick something from Game Pass. As I write this, I am playing Doom (2016) and plan to pick up Sea of Thieves after that. Both are part of the Game Pass catalogue.

Stadia will run on any computer that can power chrome browser and TVs (plug in the Stadia dongle) and phones (eventually). I already do some gaming on my mobile but I hate touch screen controls. a lot of mobile games are casual games. Stadia could technically solve.

Also, Microsoft is announcing its own thing next week. If it gets bundled with Xbox Game Pass, oh my god, I can say goodbye to Stadia and just stick with Xbox.




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