GENERAL CONSENSUS: It technically works.
November 18, 2019 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Google Stadia review: the best of cloud gaming is still just a beta [The Verge] “GoogleGoogle Stadia works. [...] All you need is a decent internet connection, a good Wi-Fi router, and your pick of Google’s Chromecast Ultra dongle, Pixel phone, or the Chrome web browser on a laptop or desktop. Oh, and a lot of patience. Google’s cloud gaming service isn’t anywhere near what the company initially promised in March. It’s effectively a beta that Google is charging real money for, and you should wait until 2020 for that to change.”

• Google Stadia review: cloud gaming brought down to earth [Polygon]
“Stadia is being released to the public with a fizzle, missing most of its key features. No family sharing; no viewable friend lists; no ability to stream games in the iOS app; and no games featuring Stream Connect, Stadia’s promising multiplayer experience that lets players jump straight into any game they’re watching. The list goes on. To call this a full launch requires a gargantuan asterisk. Here’s my pitch for Stadia at this moment: a digital storefront from which players can purchase games to stream on certain compatible devices with a number of complicated, sometimes confusing, limitations. [...] Stadia’s more like an 18-wheeler. It has one job — deliver content — and it does that job just fine. It’s completely void of glamour and frills, and it’s not particularly pretty, but it’s efficient enough.”
• Google Panics, Adds 10 More Games To Stadia's Launch Lineup [Kotaku]
“Perhaps spooked by the fact the only people who seem to care about the impending launch of their Stadia home streaming platform are those noting everything wrong with it, Google has at the 11th hour—this thing is released in two days, on November 19!—almost doubled the number of games that’ll be available when it goes live. Originally intending to launch with 12 games, Google will now be releasing 22, with the extra 10—including titles such as NBA 2K20, Final Fantasy XV and Rage 2—having been bumped up from the list of titles that were originally expected to come to Stadia “later in 2019.” 22 games is better than 12, I guess!”
• Google is targeting women with its new gaming service Stadia [CNN]
“Traditionally, gamer gear has been manly. Microsoft (MSFT)'s Xbox controller comes in colors like electric blue or firetruck red. Sony's controllers are available in black as well as various shades of neon and camo. And Nvidia's angular, black controller looks a little too much like Darth Vader's mask. Stadia is taking a more gender-neutral approach. Google is selling controllers that come in white, black or Wasabi green. "Some of our historical competitors in the console space have been a bit more masculine and a bit more mechanical in their approach," Phil Harrison, Google VP and head of Stadia, said in an interview with CNN Business. [...] Google looked at hundreds of colors and polled thousands of gamers before deciding on Wasabi. What Google found, according to its director of design Isabelle Olsson, is this color had "universal appeal." Both men and women gravitated towards this color. It ended up being super gender neutral but still very expressive," she said. "It's really hard to find colors like that." It's not just the color of the controller. A quick test of the product by CNN Business showed that the controller is slightly easier for small hands to grip than similar products put out by rivals. Google said that was intentional.”
• Google Stadia launch review: Gaming’s “future” looks rough in the present [Ars Technica]
“It should be clear by now that there are a number of technical and logistical headaches involved with the launch version of Stadia. But while Wi-Fi reliability will likely remain a problem for many, none of Stadia's launch issues are so severe they can't be fixed with time and effort. Even if every single problem with Stadia was magically fixed tomorrow, though, the benefits of the service wouldn't necessarily be worth the costs. One of Stadia's core value propositions seems to be the promise that you'll never have to buy "expensive" video game hardware again. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a new game console, the argument goes, when your existing Internet connection and hardware are all you need for quality gaming on Stadia? [...] In exchange for those marginal or unproven benefits, a Stadia customer faces some inherent risk by paying full price for games on a service that Google could shut down at any point. Unlike discs and (DRM-free) downloads, games you buy on Stadia could be completely inaccessible in the near future if Stadia goes the way of so many other abandoned Google products. Despite Google's assurances that it's in it for the long haul with Stadia, reasonable concerns still persist both among game makers and gamers themselves.”
• Google Stadia hands-on: Shockingly playable [Engadget]
“I barely expected Stadia to work. Stadia is Google's attempt to make cloud gaming happen, and the company has promised a lot: the ability to play basically any game at up to 4K on your TV, phone, tablet or laptop, with no lag and on existing internet infrastructure. And, based on these broad qualifiers, Stadia delivers. [...] Essentially: Stadia works. With a stable internet connection, proper equipment and very few other players online, Stadia streamed Destiny 2 to my phone. It made Shadow of the Tomb Raider run on my MacBook Pro, and it let me play Mortal Kombat 11 on my TV without a dedicated game console. They all loaded quickly, and they were free from game-breaking issues. For me, Stadia was a pleasant surprise. [...] Game streaming is finally viable, and Stadia is leading the charge -- but with this launch, it's turning out to be more of a stroll. Hey, at least we're getting there.”
• Google Stadia review – the console vanishes from video gaming [The Guardian]
“Once Stadia is up and running, the system is nearly indistinguishable from playing a game on a console sitting under your TV, except there’s no fan noise, no downloads or discs, and, well, no console. The bulk of my time on the Stadia was spent with the system in traditional TV mode. That means the Stadia controller connecting to Google’s servers over wifi, and a Chromecast Ultra plugged into the back of my TV doing the same. For “best performance”, Google recommends wiring the Chromecast up to a LAN, but doing so felt like overkill. Only once did I experience anything that looked like lag (when sending a picture message to my partner); every other time, it was perfect. [...] A more fundamental concern is that it doesn’t seem clear who it’s for. Streaming is a technical wonder, but if it doesn’t bring material advantages, what’s the point? [...] Ultimately, the only real benefit of the system is the absence of that box under the TV. If your impeccable sense of interior design values that above game selection, price, offline play or community size, go for it. Otherwise, stick with a home console if AAA games are where your heart lies, or pick up Apple Arcade to see what a revolution looks like when it focuses on the games and not the technology.”
posted by Fizz (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
As far as launches go and considering the scope and scale of Stadia, this is the smoothest I've ever seen. Red Dead Redemption 2 on Steam was significantly bumpier than this, and that's a ported game on a well-established platform. Or compare this to last week's Disney+ launch, which just transmits video! If Google can deliver all of its promised features even by 2022, I think it's a guaranteed game-changer (pun initially unintended).

Google should be proud of this launch. I'm seriously impressed.
posted by Edgewise at 12:15 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think in ten years it'll be clear Game Pass was a much bigger deal in changing how people come to games. Probably in conjunction with Xcloud depending on the extent streaming actually makes sense for consumers. Microsoft is simply in a better position to deliver this than Google.

That's a strange sentence to type.
posted by selfnoise at 12:20 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ah, yes, Google, that company famed for picking itself up after disastrous product launches
posted by rorgy at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


In exchange for those marginal or unproven benefits, a Stadia customer faces some inherent risk by paying full price for games on a service that Google could shut down at any point.

This is what worries me - not just with Stadia, but with what feels like a consistent move across all forms of media to a place where we don't own what we've bought, we just have access to it until somebody decides to pull the plug on the service.
posted by nubs at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2019 [20 favorites]


On the one hand, I admire the idea of not having to be tied to hardware. To just grab a controller and start gaming, that sounds like a dream.

But on the other hand, I'm not a fan of giving more power to a company to control a game I have paid for. I want to own the products I have spent my money on, but games as service, games as a subscription seems to be where everything is headed.

If we must have subscriptions, then at least let's do it in the style of Xbox Game Pass where I pay a monthly fee, it provides me gated entry to games I have subscribed to and I can download them locally on my device and as long as I keep my service up to date, I have access to it.

I just dislike giving these corporations even more access and power over the things I am paying for.

*On preview, exactly what nubs said.*
posted by Fizz at 12:45 PM on November 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


> “GoogleGoogle Stadia works.

Double the Google, half the latency?
posted by genpfault at 12:46 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


What's the average product-launch-to-death time on Google products these days? 2 years?
posted by slater at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


the internet provides: http://stadiacountdown.com/
posted by slater at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


What's the average product-launch-to-death time on Google products these days? 2 years?

Google Daydream lasted three whole years from release to last month's "Oh yeah, we don't support that anymore. Sorry."
posted by octothorpe at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2019


Man...Just wtf is wrong at Google? You’d think a tech behemoth like Google would have their shit together better than this. But between this and the Pixel 4, you kind of have to wonder.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


On the plus(?) side, this seems to have spooked Valve so badly that they're actually working on a game of their own instead of just sitting on their giant pile of money and extracting rent from anyone who wants to play games on a PC.
posted by Copronymus at 3:45 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I agree with Jim Sterling on this : Missing Tons Of Features, Google Stadia Looks To Launch As Unfinished Trash.
posted by Pendragon at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Man...Just wtf is wrong at Google? You’d think a tech behemoth like Google would have their shit together better than this.
I tend to think of this as the curse of their highly successful advertising business: they’re going to be profitable no matter what so everyone else is just a little too comfortable. The managers making these calls are going to be highly compensated no matter what, so why not create another messaging platform rather than fixing the previous ones?
posted by adamsc at 4:01 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't think it has anything to do with Google, and more of a lack of long-term vision and unwillingness to do the unexciting hard work of planning and building something out past its release.

Managers don't expect to be in the same position for very long, and they get promoted for high-visibility new projects that look good on the resume. "Launched Stadia" is a lot more impressive than "Added three new features to Hangouts and oversaw 5% user growth". Developers are also more excited about brand new products, since they don't have to deal with the overhead of the previous team's code and decisions.
posted by meowzilla at 4:53 PM on November 18, 2019 [9 favorites]


Ah, yes, Google, that company famed for picking itself up after disastrous product launches

Today's Google Cloud offerings started with AppEngine which was and still is kinda meh.
GMail's major attraction at launch was that it was free, not that it was very good feature-wise.
The original iPhone didn't have a third-party SDK or support 3G.

Is this launch half-baked? Maybe. The Stadia vision that was presented at GDC is a lot more stuff than this. And they can't make the service better by not launching it - every product eventually gets shoved out the door and improved.

yeah, maybe it'll get shut down. Maybe not.
posted by GuyZero at 5:41 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't think it has anything to do with Google, and more of a lack of long-term vision and unwillingness to do the unexciting hard work of planning and building something out past its release.
I still skim Hacker News now and again because I hate myself, and recently a Google employee there talked about how Google, as a company, actively looks for ambition to determine raises and promotions. Because, you know, it's Google. So there's a culture of cannibalism, essentially, wherein it invariably pays to cancel some extant project in favor of launching your own, showing your vision and initiative and so on and so forth. Once you move up, though, there's no reward for maintaining your project, so you leave it behind and start something new, and the thing you've left for dead becomes a gift for some other up-and-comer to seize and destroy.

Every corporate culture is some amount of dystopian, but I'm definitely a bit alarmed by Google's, watching it from afar (these days the only product of its I use is YouTube, which is deteriorating enough that I'd love someone else to jump in the fray). It feels like they churn through a lot of products, and not a lot sticks.
posted by rorgy at 8:26 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]




Ah yes, what a cutting quip from Penny Arcade which has invested significant hours into... Google's YouTube.
posted by GuyZero at 9:44 PM on November 18, 2019


Up to 20 GB of data per hour on the highest quality setting. Yup, totally see widespread adoption of this in the U.S. *eye emoji*
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:34 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I've said variations of this comment like six times, but the (in my mind) insurmountable challenge streaming game services face is that compute power grows faster than bandwidth, and therefore in the future it will only become more attractive to do compute at "the edge", rather than less. The monolithic server + thin client model is deeply appealing to corporations because it lets them continue in their quest to turn everything into a service they can charge rent on, and perhaps their monopolistic market positions will let them get away with it for a while, but the simple fact that you can do exponentially more operations locally than remotely means that the future is decentralized.

Consider: a 1996 Pentium 100 had about 12 megaflops of compute power, compared to a typical 56 kbits/s modem of the time, for a compute:bandwidth ratio of about 200 flops/bit (that is, for every bit it could transmit, it could do 200 floating point operations in the same period of time).

A circa 2000 Geforce 256 had 50 gigaflops compute vs. a typical cable speed of 5 megabits/s, for a ratio of 10,000 flop/bit.

A modern GTX 1070 has 6.5 teraflops of compute power, compared to a typical residential fiber speed of 50 megabit/s, for a ratio of 100,000 flop/bit.
posted by Pyry at 11:00 PM on November 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Given that Comcast now effectively charges between $2 and $12 a month for unlimited data for the vast majority of their subscribers who rent a gateway from them and their major wireline competition has also mostly reduced fees or eliminated data caps already, complaints about data usage seem a bit dated.

My only complaint is that they clearly didn't bother to survey the competitive landscape or they would see that the "buy games you can only use in our streaming service" model hasn't gone well even when the company involved doesn't have a history of abruptly killing off their services. Partnering with another storefront to supply downloadable copies of the games (or their equivalent not-Stadia-specific version) should have been part of the deal from the earliest conception of Stadia. Either that or a straight Netflix of games model without any pretense of ownership and thus no per-game fees.

Even so, I think they have a good chance of success if they roll out the features they say they will. Most people don't think about these things that much, so having access easily available directly from some YouTube video may itself be enough to drive sufficient sales on its own, assuming the technology keeps working.
posted by wierdo at 11:36 PM on November 18, 2019


Someone in this thread should probably disclose their GOOG holdings
posted by invitapriore at 11:50 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


A modern GTX 1070 has 6.5 teraflops of compute power, compared to a typical residential fiber speed of 50 megabit/s, for a ratio of 100,000 flop/bit.

Devil's advocate: Sure, but the counterpoint here is that you only have to transmit the resultant screen. Lossless 1080p is not that hard bandwidth wise, but outside of that video compression is increasingly Good Enough even for 4k. What's the advantage of doing the capital expenditure when you can make it a service and share resources when you're not playing to reduce the cost?
posted by jaduncan at 12:12 AM on November 19, 2019


A GTX1070 alone costs as much as a good console, while the target market is already paying for the Internet service.

A group of hardcore gamers who are losing their shit over something gaming related not being about them for once, just like they did at the beginning of the whole mobile gaming thing. They only (sort of) got over that last one by deciding that cell phone games don't really count as games. I wish they'd hurry up and decide the same thing about game streaming.

More people having access to an increasingly socially relevant form of entertainment that has heretofore only been attainable at significant expense seems like it shouldn't be controversial, yet somehow it is.

This is apart from the conversation about Google's ability to follow through and the chance data caps might strangle this and other services in the cradle, which is far more interesting than arguing over whether people are playing the games wrong, which is just more exclusionary gatekeeping bullshit.
posted by wierdo at 1:28 AM on November 19, 2019


Or compare this to last week's Disney+ launch, which just transmits video!

This is probably not the comparison you are looking for. Some clickbait sites made a big deal out of some tweets from people having trouble logging in during the morning rush, but it wasn't a lasting problem. We were watching video that evening without issue.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:10 AM on November 19, 2019


A whole twelve games able to play, but first I have to buy them (again) at full price and pay a subscription fee too?

Sign me up!
posted by MartinWisse at 6:34 AM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


A whole twelve games able to play, but first I have to buy them (again) at full price and pay a subscription fee too?

You won't have to pay an ongoing sub for 1080p. That may or may not be enough for you.
posted by jaduncan at 7:08 AM on November 19, 2019


(and I hold no brief for this, btw. I'm a Linux user that doesn't even appreciate DRMed downloads).
posted by jaduncan at 7:18 AM on November 19, 2019


Any testing of the magic negative input latency yet?
posted by lucidium at 7:18 AM on November 19, 2019


Check out this Digital Foundry article, there's a chart. But you'll be relieved to know the speed of light hasn't changed. Basically you're looking at significantly more latency than an Xbox One X, which in turn tends to have more than a well specced PC.
posted by selfnoise at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, it's funny to me that they put the entire Tomb Raider reboot trilogy on there, games famous for their obnoxious latency on consoles. That Shadow number is... no bueno.
posted by selfnoise at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2019


A group of hardcore gamers who are losing their shit over something gaming related not being about them for once, just like they did at the beginning of the whole mobile gaming thing.

I'm seeing an increasing amount of this style of bad faith argument that tries to paint people who are capable of perceiving that this is a massive corporation (one that has a long, storied history of arbitrarily destroying communities built up around their services, no less!) offering a service that is only barely functional in the best case scenario while clawing the last bits of ownership away from end users as entitled babies who are behaving unreasonably. Where does this come from? What is this desperate desire to cast facts aside in order to defend the megacorp?
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:06 AM on November 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm seeing an increasing amount of this style of bad faith argument that tries to paint people who are capable of perceiving that this is a massive corporation (one that has a long, storied history of arbitrarily destroying communities built up around their services, no less!) offering a service that is only barely functional in the best case scenario while clawing the last bits of ownership away from end users as entitled babies who are behaving unreasonably. Where does this come from? What is this desperate desire to cast facts aside in order to defend the megacorp?

On reddit, it was pretty common to see people, even before any reviews were out, say that this was pointless and that everyone who wanted to play games had a console or a PC already.
posted by No One Ever Does at 8:16 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'm the target market for this sort of thing - I like playing video games, but my current lifestyle doesn't really lend itself to hanging out in front of a dedicated TV or computer to game on. The switch has been fantastic for me, in that at least I'm getting to play AAA titles from eight years ago.

So while I haven't jumped on stadia yet, I'm certainly hoping that one of google/valve/microsoft/nvidia succeeds. It would be nice to be able to play current games, more or less, while people are talking about them. All they really need is to add a pause-and-suspend anywhere feature (I'm aware of why this is a big ask) and I'm absolutely there.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 8:27 AM on November 19, 2019


Where does this come from? What is this desperate desire to cast facts aside in order to defend the megacorp?

It makes more sense if you read it less as "I want to defend google therefore I will disparage gamers" and much more "I want to disparage gamers and accept having to defend google to do it." Because if there's any kind of cohesive gestalt to draw from the gamer community, it's darn unpleasant and well worth disparaging.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:19 AM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


On reddit, it was pretty common to see people, even before any reviews were out, say that this was pointless and that everyone who wanted to play games had a console or a PC already.

They're not far wrong.

Nothing google offers with this differs much from other attempts to "stream" videogames and those all failed, so the onus is on google to prove that it can do better.

The idea that there are many people who can't afford a console but are eager to buy full price pc games nonetheless rather than just getting something for their mobile is something to be skeptical about as well.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2019


I think this attitude is somewhat understandable... PC gaming culture involves a lot of wealth flaunting that goes mostly unremarked, and I've found it pretty gross in the past. If you see a technology that appears to make it more accessible which is then disparaged by the same people parading their RTX cards around it's going to feel pretty shitty.

On the topic of Stadia, I've been ruminating for a bit on this, and I think it ultimately comes down to a very simple scenario.

1. Microsoft combines Xcloud with Game Pass to create the Netflix of games.
2. Stadia becomes a version of this or goes away.

It seems like a no brainer and it's also clear this is Microsoft's plan.
posted by selfnoise at 9:30 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I was wondering why Google didn't take the Netflix model for content, but I think it might be Netflix's current trajectory that scared them away. When other companies get in on this streaming game thing (which they have been or are starting to already), all of their content could disappear. By selling the games directly, they're reducing the motivation to cut out the middle-man.

I could see Stadia ultimately failing despite the technology succeeding due to competitors having incumbent content advantages that allow them to use a subscription model.
posted by No One Ever Does at 10:30 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think Google's problem is that Microsoft and Sony actually have game streaming tech that works and the servers to back it up, so there's no real advantage for them there. Granted Sony's currently sort of sucks but they could improve it.

And then of course MS and Sony have a huge head start on exclusive games and developer relations.
posted by selfnoise at 10:53 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I could see Stadia ultimately failing despite the technology succeeding due to competitors having incumbent content advantages that allow them to use a subscription model.

iTunes soldiered along for a few years after Spotify showed up, but yes, Google is hamstrung by their publisher partners' interest in moving to a subscription model. Publishers still love that sweet hit of upfront cash for the time being. Also game studios have already seen how Netflix turned out, so they have some advantage in negotiating deals with Google unlike movie studios in 2008.

If only Google had the good sense to, say invest in building a first-party game studio. Of course, it'll take years for anything to come from that even in the best case scenario.
posted by GuyZero at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2019


What is this desperate desire to cast facts aside in order to defend the megacorp?

Perhaps the continued existence and seeming health of alternative distribution channels might have something to do with it?

Also, it is possible to criticize one person or group without defending another. The criticism stands on its own merits. I'd say the same things if people were shitting on anyone else for such obviously specious reasons.

This entire conversation (me included, but not necessarily this specific conversation, I mean the entire narrative that has built up around Stadia) is deeply strange. Why does it seem like half the gaming press and indeed gamers themselves feel actively threatened and are lashing out because Google duplicated OnLive even though Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are all selling (and planning new models of) their various home consoles, all while NVidia and ATI are releasing new graphics cards roughly in line with historical norms. Nobody is being left out. A new option is being made available for those who find it better for them. You are free to completely ignore it. It will probably go away anyway, most Google projects do.

Add it to the long list of bizarre overreactions among groups of all kinds that have been growing in frequency and severity in line with Moore's law since about 2009.
posted by wierdo at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


What is this desperate desire to cast facts aside in order to defend the megacorp?

Google needs zero defense and Stadia has lots of ways to fail. But a lot of the "stadia sukkzors" hot takes are actually freezing cold terrible takes. Every single platform player in the video game industry is working on something technologically like this.
posted by GuyZero at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2019


Every single platform player in the video game industry is working on something technologically like this.

The really interesting fight will be Microsoft vs Valve for PC game streaming.
posted by jaduncan at 2:36 AM on November 20, 2019


> Check out this Digital Foundry article, there's a chart. But you'll be relieved to know the speed of light hasn't changed.

Thanks selfnoise, I remember some talk about predictive inputs and running inputs from a couple of frames back, but I think it was a vague "at some point in the future" thing. From what I understand, around 100ms is the threshold where things still feel physically connected. I wonder if most people will just used to games feeling a tiny bit washy though, given that it's already reaching there for a lot of setups.
posted by lucidium at 4:38 AM on November 21, 2019


Google killing Daydream had me sceptical about Stadia's longevity but now with them EOLing Cloud Print, I'm staying away from any new Google offerings. This company has lost its bearings.
posted by octothorpe at 4:52 AM on November 26, 2019


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