Monthly Archive: September 2019

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Hands-on: Stadia’s cloud gaming feels impressive, but Google’s showing off the wrong games

So I want to be clear, Stadia’s a hell of a lot better than OnLive. Streaming infrastructure has improved immeasurably in the past decade, and I find Stadia genuinely impressive in that regard. You could play Doom Eternal on it, or even Mortal Kombat.

“Could” is a low bar though. If that’s all Google’s hoping to prove, then congrats, they’ve done it. But if instead they’re trying to demonstrate that Stadia is a good place to play fighting games, shooters, and such? I don’t think they’re there yet. Maybe they never will be, at least not for people (like myself) who are used to playing these games locally, and thus are susceptible to noticing latency fluctuations.

Bottom line
Again, that’s not our final verdict. Stadia’s not even due to release in limited Founder’s Edition form until November, and it’ll be some months after that when the service is expanded to the general public and to all Chrome-enabled devices. There are, and I can’t stress this enough, so many variables at play. Hell, our demo was limited to 25Mbps while here in San Francisco I have a gigabit connection, wired straight into my PC and TV. Will it matter? Will it help? Will it change my mind? I certainly reserve the right to do so once we’ve put Stadia through its paces at home.

For now, I’d like to reiterate that it’s both more and less impressive than I expected. More, in that it seems like a rock-solid streaming service for games like Assassin’s Creed and Baldur’s Gate III, games where an extra half-second of latency doesn’t matter. Less, because Google keeps pushing Stadia with titles like Doom and Mortal Kombat that seem distinctly unsuited to its strengths, even if they run better than they have any right to.

Check back in November. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more to say about Stadia then.

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