Thursday, November 30, 2023

Let’s just agree that Stadia is really good

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When i wrote a broken hearted piece crying how much I did not like Cyberpunk 2077, a lot of feedback that I focused on one detail: that I had played a game of this magnitude on a Google Stadia.

Since he started, the Stadia hasn’t really received rave reviews. But I didn’t really have a choice. The only other console I own is a Nintendo Switch. For days I scrambled to try and find another console to play on, but everyone I knew had a console that could play Cyberpunk naturally wanted to keep it to themselves. To play I had to take a dusty Stadia and Chromecast Ultra review unit from my colleague, Jess gray.

Once I got it, I kept playing on it. After giving up Cyberpunk (it’s OK to give up!), I started playing AC Valhalla. Then a friend sent me a message to start playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Then Red Dead Redemption 2. For four months, I played almost every night on a Stadia. You know what? The Stadia is doing well. It’s fine even if you don’t play it for work! It’s the perfect console for a gamer like me who loves games but … isn’t very good. Admit it. I bet there are more of us than you think.

Mercenary for hire

When it launched, Stadia was touted as a way to make high-resolution gaming a much more accessible hobby. While other companies offer games in the cloud – or online streaming games on various devices – as a simple add-on, Stadia is entirely in the cloud. You can play games on a device you already own or with a relatively affordable $ 69 controller.

Yet it is not precisely true that you don’t need money to play on a Stadia. If you are streaming games, paying for an incredibly fast internet connection and lots of bandwidth is definitely worth it. Not only do I live in an area where fiber optic internet is available – not many people do! – I’m already paying for it.

I also have a TCL Series 5, which is a pretty good looking smart TV. It has a built-in Roku with a dedicated game mode to reduce input lag. I’ve played first-person shooters (or lasso, technically, in Red Dead) and multiplayer games for a few months. It doesn’t look bad! As far as I know, I had very few lag issues.

Whoever has high-speed internet and a decent TV, wants to play video games, and doesn’t already own an Xbox, PlayStation, or gaming PC? Surprise! It’s me!

As Nintendo discovered with the runaway success of the Switch, there are a lot of us hobbyists who still want to play big games but don’t have the time or space to invest in a really cool gaming setup. I wouldn’t buy a carbon fiber racing bike to go to the grocery store, and I don’t really need super fast pc to fall off cliffs.

A colleague – who will go unnamed, mainly because this discussion was part of the context of “Why don’t you play with me on Stadia?” – asked me why, if Stadia is an entry-level console, all games are… Gamer-y.

Stadia is slowly adding titles, but it’s an odd assortment, with very few “starter” games that I often see recommended for the Switch, like Stardew Valley or Animal crossing. This makes sense to me, because in my opinion the whole point of a Stadia is to play games that you would otherwise need expensive hardware to play.

Look, I know great, fast-paced, immersive games would be better on almost any other console, even older ones. It… it doesn’t matter much to me. My internal processor, that is to say my brain, is having enough trouble compiling all these search-aim-shoot sequences. I currently do not have the capacity to appreciate all the richness and detail of what I know I am missing.


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