So long, and thanks for all the Games

Stadia Sunset

After meeting my now wife and having kids, gaming took a back seat in my life. I used to be a big PlayStation fan. But adult life got in the way and my game time stopped. My old PS3 broke in 2011, and it was never replaced. For nearly 10 years I didn’t play much at all.

But in 2020 I decided that I’d like to start playing games again to pass the time. So in March I started looking for a PS4. Just as the pandemic took hold and the country locked down. It seemed that everyone else had the same idea. PS4s, Xbox Ones and Nintendo Switches all became hard to get a hold of. I started looking around for a way to play newer games and I remembered that Google had released a streaming platform.

Hand Holding a Stadia Controller
A hand holding a Google Stadia controller

Early Days

After a lot of research I decided it probably wasn’t for me. The reports of serious lag and features missing that were supposed to be there at launch made it unappealing. Most YouTube videos at that time were very negative. There was a lot more bad press than positive.

But, then again, they did have 2 months of Pro for free. I had nothing to lose apart from time, and I had plenty to spare given that I wasn’t allowed out of my house. So I gave it a go. I dug out my old DualShock 3 controller, got that working on my laptop and booted up Destiny 2.

Wow. I couldn’t believe I was playing Destiny 2 on my old laptop using an even older DualShock 3 controller. And it was playing so well. My laptop was having no issues at all. Where was the input lag? I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t tell I was playing via the cloud. There were no visual issues at all. I couldn’t believe they did it.

Destiny 2 Stadia Game Play
Many good Destiny 2 memories were made thanks to Stadia

I was hooked. Straight away I bought a Premier Edition to play on my TV and an Orzly mount, so I could play on my phone. The Stadia controller is the comfiest controller I’d ever used. The one bit of hardware they made they absolutely nailed. (I’m glad they have enabled Bluetooth support.) The future was here and it worked. I could play AAA titles like Doom Eternal and Red Dead 2 whenever and wherever I wanted. 

The Community

I found the amazing Sounds of Stadia podcast and started listening to that. From there I found the wider community and it was great. So much positivity from most people. I met some amazing people through Twitter, Discord and YouTube. Too many to name. This is all I wanted from a gaming community.

I even took the leap to write for Stadia Dosage. Something that was, and is, so far out of my comfort zone. Jack and the team there are absolutely amazing.

Of course, there were some problems. They have been documented, discussed and dissected by many people. Lack of new games, lack of old games, lack of communication et cetera. But for all its shortcomings, I didn’t care. Google had made a product that lowered the bar of entry to basement level. You could say this blinded me to the many issues, and you would be right to a point. I wasn’t unaware of the problems, but they weren’t problems for me. And that’s what mattered to me.

But I was still surprised at the amount of negative reviews Stadia got from most news outlets. Clearly they hadn’t tried it or tried it on a subpar network. Or they ignored the unique features Stadia had. But the “haters” grew. Google did little to disparage that discourse and unfortunately, they all got their wish. Google is shutting Stadia down in mere hours as I write this. As unbelievable as Stadia is from a tech standpoint, Google shutting it down is even more so. 

The Bittersweet End

Once they made the announcement, I stopped playing on Stadia. I couldn’t bring myself to play games I might never finish. I have tried other cloud gaming providers and nothing came close to Stadia in terms of ease of use, visuals, convenience and community. Everyone is missing something. That spark of magic. Ironically, how Google has ended Stadia could have gotten more people to try it. Refunding all games and hardware would have, in my opinion, persuaded a lot more people to give it a go.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Capture
Arthur Morgan, from Red Dead Redemption 2, looking at the sunset, probably thinking about Stadia

For me, I have settled on the Xbox ecosystem. Game Pass Ultimate is a superb offering of games with a lot in the cloud. It isn’t as good as Stadia, but it’s good enough.

I hope that the tech, and the team who made it, find their way to a new home because none of this should be wasted. I am, and will be, forever grateful to Stadia for bringing me back into the gaming fold after many years without.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened

Dr. Seuss

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fabled_alpaca

A tabletop gaming nerd who has recently rediscovered video game thanks to Stadia (RiP). He is a huge believer in Cloud Gaming and the accessibility it brings. He Loves playing Dungeons & Dragons and a slew of modern board games as well as creating custom leather goods and photography.

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