Sunday, November 29

a mixed first year between failures, late promises and nascent hopes

Before celebrating its first anniversary on November 19, Google Stadia continues to multiply announcements of new features. No question of giving up for the cloud gaming platform which will undoubtedly draw a mixed assessment of its foray into the world of video games, but remains confident.

The Google Stadia handcuffs

The Google Stadia controller // source: Frandroid

Google Stadia begins the week of the review. This Thursday, November 19, the American giant will celebrate the first anniversary of its cloud gaming platform. Launched with a lot of announcements and promises last year, it has not quite kept them, although things have accelerated lately.

Blame it on rather fuzzy communication, innovations that are overdue and a rapid loss of interest in early adopters who had invested heavily in Founder’s Edition, this pack (controller, Chromecast TV and first months of subscription) which was to accompany the entry into a new era of video games.

A year later, Stadia seems to be coming out of a long beta phase and there have been some awakenings in recent weeks, with the launch of game demos and the addition of new functions, even for players in a situation of handicap.

No game release, no seduction operation

In its defense, it must also be recognized that Google was not helped by the multiple postponements of blockbusters which should also have boosted its first months and served as a lead product to attract new players (Watch Dogs Legion, Marvel’s Avengers, etc.). The best example remains Cyberpunk 2077, postponed over and over again, and that was even to be the platform’s giveaway with an exit falling right on her birthday. But 2020 being what it is, Stadia as we will have to wait until December 10 to attest to the pleasure ” a launch without (downloading) on ​​all media ” an ambitious game that is bound to take longer even on the powerful Xbox Series X and PS5.

La fonction Crowd choice sur Dead by Daylight

La fonction Crowd choice sur Dead by Daylight // Gamesdone : Google Stadia

“Without mastery,the power is nothing ”, we say. Without big popular games expected either and on that, Google did not have the hand. Stadia has however boosted its catalog over the months with many games offered as part of the Stadia Pro subscription offer (10 euros per month). Without having paid more than the monthly subscription (with three months offered at the beginning), the first registrants have nearly forty titles at the end of a year, of which Hitman or the saga Tomb Raider. And then, gradually, Stadia was able to take advantage of game releases at the same time as the consoles. The players were thus able to benefit from Watch Dogs Legion or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Ubisoft, partner from the start, on the same day, of NBA 2K21 at launch, or even Marvel’s Avengers upstream of Xbox One and PS4 or even the highly anticipated Baldur’s Gate III exclusively.

Yet efficient technology …

Yet the promised technology is here. Whether you are on an Android smartphone, PC, Mac or TV via Chromecast, starting Google Stadia is childishly simple and blazingly fast, even with somewhat low internet speeds. The updates are done in the shadows and thus avoid making the player hang out before launching a game. But the failures of the beginning, the promises of new functions awaited too long or of a game in generalized and more beautiful 4K have got the better of many brave people who wanted to believe it.

And Google must also drag this reputation for unsuccessful service that sticks to the controller. More necessarily with good reason with the efforts made to bring in developers through the Stadia Makers program, but also to have its stock of exclusive games with iconic video game heroes like the Super Bomberman R Online from Konami orPac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle from BandaiNamco, which arrives this week. Two multiplayer games (up to 64 at the same time) that take full advantage of the possibilities of Google Stadia and its instant play. Two fun titles that could also be real carriers of the service with a better emphasis …

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle // Gamesdone : Bandai Namco

… but communication failures

However, it is still insufficient to attract new players en masse as Google dreamed of a year ago. The fault of poor communication, centered above all on preaching converts more than on converting new ones. The same mistake made from the start in trying to convince the most gamers with an unprecedented cloud gaming technology when the result, and especially the too old catalog, was not there.

Since then, Stadia has innovated with the addition of Crowd Choice to influence the game of a YouTuber, Crowd Play to ask to face him in a multiplayer game, or State Share to allow your friends to join or replay a sequence. of your game. Nerf of war in video games, it is now also on the side of house exclusives, Stadia Games and Entertainment studios supervised by Jade Raymon in Montreal and California, or Typhoon Studios acquired by Google, that the ‘We’re still waiting to find out what Google cloud gaming can offer. But for the moment, it’s still radio silence and new games are pending.

« We believe in it. The technology is there and it is one of the best to play everywhere, without loading times and with quality. And we are all early gamers. I also play on Xbox ”, insists Chobils, one of the players behind Stadia FR, a French-speaking community of cloud gaming enthusiasts in Stadia style which was born in the footsteps of the platform. They are undoubtedly to date the best unofficial ambassadors of Stadia’s communication in France to promote its technology and its advances via a website, podcasts and a dedicated Discord server.

A first round of announcements while waiting for the festivities

Before unveiling its schedule of festivities for its birthday, Google was satisfied with a blog post to take stock of the latest features added to Stadia:

  • Family sharing : it allows you to share games purchased or owned as a Stadia Pro subscriber with multiple family members.
  • Messaging on Stadia: to send messages to other players and party members, also using joysticks for quick and easy responses.
  • Mobile and web capture sharing : it is possible to send your game captures (photos and videos) via a link on mobile and on the Web from the Captures page of your account. Video captures now include voice audio from in-game chat.
  • Stadia profile improvements : Information such as games owned, friends list, and attendance time are now shown if desired. Shortcuts make it easier to add other players to a party.
Stadia

Stadia

We are still waiting to know what Stadia has in store for its players for its birthday this week. There should be announcements, games offered no doubt and surprises. It’s hard to understand why, it was in October that Google released the big game with its very first playable demos free for everyone, and not just its subscribers, and not for more important celebrations for its birthday. An initiative nevertheless welcome, symbol of the possibilities of cloud gaming that we would like to see repeated.

Stadia is indisputably the future of video games with the ability to play anywhere, on any medium. At Google, despite a mixed first year, we do not intend to stop there and investments continue. It only remains to hope, for the good of the video game sector, that the Mountain View firm has learned the lessons of this first saw-tooth exercise to become a real innovative player. Everyone will be a winner, the players above all.

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