The big question: Google continues to chug along with its development of the Stadia beta. New games have been popping on to the service since launch with three more being added in this week. Four more have been confirmed for 2020, but is this really enough to make the service sustainable?
Google’s game-streaming platform Stadia got off to a rocky start. It is trying to stem the criticism by throwing more free trials into the ecosystem, but that does not help one of it's biggest issues — a lack of content. Thankfully for early subscribers, that has not discouraged Google from plowing forward with its planned releases.
Google announced Borderlands 3 and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 are available in the Stadia library as of Tuesday, with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint hitting on the platform on Wednesday. Ghost Recon will be the first title to incorporate Google's exclusive Stream Connect feature, which allows players to view their teammates’ screens, picture-in-picture style, so they can better coordinate their missions.
Early impressions of Stadia have shown that it’s not for everyone. Its skimpy library consists of games most players already have and barring the fact that you can play anywhere; there is not much else that is a draw for the $130 entry point (not including the cost of games). As Kotaku’s Paul Tamayo put it:
“Outside of the ability to stream games on a browser or your phone, I really can’t find a strong selling point for playing games that you can largely get on other platforms already for around the same price.”
It’s a valid point even though, for the most part, the service runs pretty smoothly as long as you have a fast and steady internet connection.
In Google’s defense, Stadia is still technically in beta, and more games are coming in 2020, including Doom Eternal, the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, Gods and Monsters, and Watch Dogs: Legion. None of these titles have release dates set, but Google has confirmed that they are arriving next year.
One must also realize that game streaming is still relatively new, and so far, nobody has gotten it completely right. Sony’s PlayStation Now has been around since 2014 (beta release) and has an extensive library of games. However, it still struggles to sell the service.
The main hurdle that platforms like these have to overcome is not making the system work perfectly with little lag. It is more about offering the player something that they can’t get elsewhere. While playing anywhere is novel, it's just not enough.
Google is on the right track by bringing gaming to practically any device you own (eventually). Still, without exclusive content, it is going to struggle to compete with standalone consoles and PCs. To treat it like a completely separate market is a fool's errand — just ask Sony.
Without sufficient bait to lure players from other platforms, any streaming service is going to struggle to get off the ground, just like PS Now still does even after five years.
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