The Google Stadia game streaming platform has now been released to the public, and reviews are pouring in from all corners of the internet. Even ahead of the program's release, Google faced scrutiny from fans and developers alike by announcing a number of previously advertised features for the Stadia would not be initially available, and although the console currently sports 22 playable titles at launch many of them have already been released for a year or longer on other platforms.
It's understandable some developers would be hesitant to jump on board with Google Stadia early on, given the company's long-running penchant for abandoning under-performing products and services. After Google hosted a fairly embarrassing Stadia AMA on Reddit, which saw one employee offering to personally hand-deliver a Stadia to someone to make up for the company's shipping problems, players were understandably skeptical about what reviewers would say once the program's embargo lifted.
Well, Google's Stadia service is here now, and it's... not great. In a rare show of solidarity, nearly every video game and technology media outlet seems to share the same fundamental opinion of Google's first foray into the cloud streaming marketplace, one which suggests the company should have waited at least another six months, if not a full year, before releasing Stadia to the public. While everyone seems to agree the product works as described under very specific, ideal conditions, a lack of completed features or quality exclusives makes the Stadia hard for pretty much anyone to recommend at this time. Review excerpts from around the internet are included below.
Forbes - Paul Tassi
I may have been a Stadia skeptic going into this test run, but I was willing to give it a chance. But this has been a catastrophe from start to finish during my testing phase, and the problem is that even if it did work flawlessly, which it absolutely doesn’t, the entire model seemed doomed from the start. This is an enormous miss from Google, and I am really wondering what the fallout is going to be from this ill-conceived early launch.
The Verge - Sean Hollister
There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now. Google has made sure of that, partly by underdelivering at launch and partly with a pricing scheme that sees you paying three times (for hardware, for the service, for games) just to be an early adopter.
Kotaku - Paul Tamayo
At the moment, Stadia feels about as substantial as a phone upgrade. Sure, it’ll have a better camera and a few new features, but once you transfer stuff, it’s the same user interface—the same message threads and emails you’ve been ignoring. This just felt like playing Destiny 2 on my PC or Red Dead Redemption 2 on my PS4 Pro. There aren’t any real reasons to buy the service over consoles or a PC right now. That’s one thing Google needs to address if they want this thing to be appealing, especially with a new generation of consoles looming.
9to5Google - Ben Schoon
Stadia, as it stands right now, is not a finished product. In fact, it’s far from it. The catalog of games is tiny and most of the platform’s defining features aren’t present right now. The core of Stadia is here and, based on those early reviews, it’s pretty good too. However, in its current state, Stadia is not ready for the vast majority of consumers. If Google had labeled this week’s launch as a beta or even “early access” – both very common in the gaming community – much of the negativity currently out there probably wouldn’t exist.
Wired - Jess Grey
When you compare Stadia's online interface to a traditional console like an Xbox One, PS4, or even the Steam store, you will notice there’s a substantial lack of meat on these bones. Stadia doesn’t support achievements, and it’s unclear whether or not you’ll be able to play games with players on other consoles or be limited to only other Stadia players. Google says cross-play is the goal, but it won’t be available at launch.
Polygon - Chris Plante
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.
VentureBeat - Jeff Grubb
Right now, Google Stadia is a platform for nobody. The company just doesn’t seem to understand any of the audiences it is trying to reach.
The Guardian - Alex Hern
The Stadia nailed the impossible, and then failed the possible. The single most important challenge facing Google – getting video game streaming on a par with local play – has been passed with flying colours. But on everything else, the company’s approach is baffling. Some aspects suggest a rushed launch, with the company overly comfortable in its ability to push software updates down the line, failing to appreciate the importance of giving early adopters – the most engaged, eager fanbase – something for their loyalty.
Screen Rant - Christopher Teuton
Google Stadia works just fine under perfect testing conditions, but that doesn't mean it's worth a purchase right out of the gate. There are a number of integral features still missing from the program at launch, and no one should pay full price for a product under the assumption the rest of the promised benefits will be added in later. Although Google is offering multiple deals on games for Stadia Pro adopters, the fact remains all but one of these games have already been available on other consoles, and the one game which is exclusive to Google Stadia isn't anything to write home about.
By all accounts, Google should have waited at least until February 2020, when many of its planned features are set to go into effect, before releasing the Stadia to the public. What is available now feels more like a beta testing service, something many people feel Stadia desperately needed.
The Founder's Edition of Google Stadia sold out nearly a month before the program's launch, although some players who pre-ordered the Founder's Edition may not have yet received their copies. The internet connection required will put a burden on many players who have their bandwidth capped by service providers, and although nearly all gaming systems are making pushes into the cloud streaming market they are doing so with an established framework and player base. Right now, for an average player, Google Stadia seems less like an enjoyable experience and more like a turkey which hasn't quite finished cooking.
Google Stadia's Premiere Edition is available to purchase now for $129.