Stadia

Google launched Stadia, their game streaming service, a little over a year ago. I participated in their trial, the one where you could play/stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a web browser… it worked well. Very well. I tried it on my NUC, which is running Ubuntu Linux and had nothing but integrated graphics, and the game looked and played just fine. It was mind boggling.

But, I didn’t wind up getting a Stadia or subscribing. The launch was confusing, with a complicated chart of different levels of support, and the whole thing about having to buy the games even if you owned them on a different platform. I’ve done plenty of double-dipping, but do try to avoid it for full priced games.

Plus as the cynics would say, what happens to your purchases when Stadia eventually shuts down? And it has been a tough year, with everyone else launching their streaming platforms, from Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Amazon’s Luna, plus Sony and Microsoft launching their next gen consoles with their already established streaming services…

Anyway, a friend received a Stadia from her brother who got one since he’s a YouTube fancy level subscriber, and also a Stadia subscriber, so he passed it along. And I got a demo of it, one year in.

It was… good. Great? I mean, games were there, they ran, it worked just fine. I was still kind of so-so on the whole thing, with the minor exception that I’m out of town a bit more often these days, now and for the forseeable future. Yes I take precautions and so does my family in this COVID world, but I’m planning to travel for most holidays, and then socially distance with my family, rather than just socially distance at my home. 😉

And while the Nintendo Switch does fill in the gap, I would also like to play some other games not available for the Switch. In fact, Stadia is kind of ideal for my use case: my mom’s TV.

So my interest it a bit higher than it was a year ago. I looked over the list of Stadia games (the one on Wikipedia, which is useful, rather than the pointless one on the Stadia website) and saw a few that caught my eye. Ones that I don’t own, like Cyberpunk 2077, Hitman 3 (both coming out in the near future), Elder Scrolls Online (how cool would it be to be able to play a few hours while visiting for a long weekend?!).

I looked more, and figured out the crucial product tiers for me. That would be: Stadia Pro is the subscription service that ALSO lets you stream 4K, for $10 a month; vs the non subscription service that only lets you stream 1080p, for $0 a month. The other one is Stadia Premeire, which is the controller plus Chromecast Ultra, for $100 (except by clicking the “take a sneak peek at Black Friday offers” you’ll see that this will go on sale for $70 a few days from now).

The other thing not entirely clear, is that you can play via the Google Chrome browser, and use mouse/keyboard. This is how I did the AC Odyssey preview and as I mentioned, it worked amazingly well.

Now I have a 4K TV, but my mom doesn’t, so regular Stadia (non Pro) is fine.

So… ability to play ESO while traveling. I probably need to repurchase the game on Stadia, which I don’t mind, but the benefits would be ability to play while I’m traveling (jump in to pick up daily rewards, train horse, do a bit of questing), ability to play with my friend (who is 100% Nintendo otherwise), with some minor benefits like saving 100 Gb of space on my PC and Playstation.

That was enough to tip me over to signing up for Stadia. I started the process, and when I finished, I was greeted with an ad:

Basically, get a game I am planning to get anyway, with a controller bundle I was going to get anyway (this Fri when it goes on sale for $70), for $60 (the price if you click the pre-order button) – that’s like getting the game for free and $10 off the upcoming sale price of the controller/chromecast?? Plus I have $10 to save on a game purchase…

I did not have to ponder this for long before doing it.

So, I think sometime in the next few days my Stadia Premiere bundle will arrive, and then on Dec 10 I should be able to crank up Cyberpunk 2077. Nice! EDIT: OK it seems the Stadia Premiere bundles won’t ship until after Cyberpunk 2077 releases, to avoid dealing with cancellation and returns. So, mouse/keyboard/Chrome until I can give it a spin on my TV.

Of course, I’m not going to throw away my Switch, PS4, gaming PC, etc. The Stadia fills a niche for me, so while I’m not going to convert over 100%, I would be willing to buy a handful of games on that platform.

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