Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself.

  • Stadia is Google’s gaming service in the cloud.
  • You can gamble with it on almost all devices.
  • Our test and field report is intended to shed light on the challenges.

First, Google started a very exclusive test, a few users were able to play a top game in the Chrome browser. It later turned out to be a test run for the later Stadia. After two years, Stadia is long established and a really great product, at least that’s what the die-hard fanboys say. Just a few months ago, Bloomberg reported that Google was still clearly missing its own target for the number of customers. It is clear to me that there are good arguments for both camps.

Shortly before this report there was a deal that caused me to ask questions. Google sold the Stadia controller including Chromecast Ultra for an incredible 22 euros. Which was perhaps an ingenious PR campaign. Or a targeted sale, because the necessary storage for the hardware left behind is expensive. The latter would speak against Stadia. By now, there may be an answer we’ve been waiting for.

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

Added later: Several months after the article was published, a major insider report surfaced. It said Stadia had no chance of surviving, at least not on a large scale for consumers. Internally, Google has allegedly focused almost entirely on the technology used in order to sell it to other companies. There should hardly be any investments in Stadia, at least not for private customers. A low blow that supports my suspicions.

Google Stream report: Stadia failed as a product

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

Google ventures into new territory. Once again.

Stadia is a full console in the cloud. You receive the image material as a video stream, and you also send the control commands to the cloud. The games are calculated in the best possible image quality on the Google servers. There are comparable services such as GeForce Now from Nvidia and Microsoft has long since jumped on the bandwagon. However, there is a crucial difference between the providers. Google is not a big player in the gaming market, but it is in the cloud and internet services sector.

For a while, they tried to even turn Stadia into a studio for games. Which, however, failed miserably. It took Google a while to build Stadia the way it’s usable today. In addition to all sorts of functions, there was a lack of a good selection of playable titles for a long time. That has long since changed, although titles like GTA are still missing. Google has also proven that games that can be bought via Stadia are regularly offered at a lower price. Stadia is not that different from real consoles in this respect.

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

So far, Google has failed with social networks, messenger apps and some other projects for which there was long-established competition. That didn’t reflect well on Stadia from the start. The early end of their own development studios showed impressively how quickly their own ambitions sometimes failed. Stadia, on the other hand, as a mere internet service, has grown and steadily improved.

It couldn’t be any easier, at least in theory

Turn on Stadia and get started. That is the plan. No matter on which device. This works on your notebook, on your smartphone and even on devices with such rudimentary equipment as the Chromecast series. The perfect all-rounder for this is the Stadia controller, which connects directly to the Google servers via WLAN and thus reduces the delay. This works very well. But even with a mouse and keyboard connected locally via Bluetooth, I didn’t experience any lag that I might have noticed as a casual gamer.

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

In fact, the lag is so small that multiplayer works well. When you find opponents. “Seasons” in FIFA 22 failed on the first try. For minutes, the game searched for available opponents, but couldn’t find anything. It’s different with Xbox and PlayStation, you can find other players 24/7. Which showed all the more clearly how important cross-platform gaming is for Stadia and comparable offers. And I think it’s also proof that Stadia isn’t well positioned in Europe if even such a popular game doesn’t have enough online players to show for it.

Frustration with off-the-shelf hardware: It’s not the bandwidth that matters

Even though Stadia is so straightforward and the initial investment on the part of users can be extremely low, there are still some hurdles in your home. Stadia does not need a lot of bandwidth (10 – 35 Mbit/s), but much more a stable connection with the lowest possible latency/ping and low jitter. And many will not have the latter because the hardware from the box in the wall is not good enough. It can be all the more frustrating when Stadia doesn’t flicker across the screen in good image quality or even stutters.

I can hardly think of any private household that I personally know that is equipped with such good WLAN hardware to really have fun with Stadia. Sometimes it’s not even enough for WhatsApp video calls. As a rule, the home Internet should be sufficient for Netflix and Co., but not for cloud gaming with an extremely low delay. Which in my opinion is the sticking point that makes it difficult for Stadia and Co. The problem lies in the details, which many “normal people” are probably not very familiar with.

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

Stadia is fun, but it may already be sitting on the silent stairs

As a casual, tech-savvy gamer, I have pretty decent mesh WiFi for good Stadia performance. That’s why Stadia works really well for me. But I don’t have an overview of the various concerns of “real” players. If you ask, Stadia still has a lot of problems when it comes to patching games. In addition, there are no promises, such as additional apps for various TV providers (LG still managed to do this before the end of the year) or the inclusion of popular games such as the GTA series. Which leads to the question of who Google actually wants to target with Stadia?

The real gamer uses the Windows PC in the cloud, the real console or the gaming PC. These platforms are more established, sometimes a bit more mature and offer more individual freedom. The casual gamer like me may despair of the problems mentioned, getting Stadia really lag-free in decent image quality on their own screens. In my opinion, this is the biggest problem in making the oh-so-simple Stadia a success.

As already added in the article above, Stadia should hardly be expanded for private customers. The silent staircase seems to come true.

Stadia tested: Online game console not only fails in itself

Do you already have experience with Stadia? Should you do, there are even free trials like Hitman, Super Bomberman R Online and Riders Republic!

The article was later updated and updated.