October 1st, 2018.
Four years ago exactly today.
That’s when I requested to participate in Google’s Project Stream for an opportunity to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through Chrome. A week later, on October 8th, I received my email notification that let me know my requested had been accepted.
Although I never got a chance to play AC:O (latency issues), I kept an eye on Stadia as it launched and eventually jumped on the Stadia train mid-2020.
Today, four years later, I’m winding down my Stadia gaming activities with some very mixed feelings.
Stadia became my choice for several reasons. My gaming hardware was aging and with a new console generation just around the corner, Stadia seemed like the sensible choice to avoid buying a new computer while still playing some of the games I wanted to play. When the scarcity of the new console generation became obvious, it just seemed like a no-brainer to keep going with Stadia.
The simplicity of Stadia was another reason. I could open a browser window, load the Stadia page, connect the controller and start gaming. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but it was a much better experience than GFN. It just worked, and it worked well.
For me, it was never about being able to play the most recent games. I rarely jump on new releases anyway. I don’t have a whole lot of time to play, so it’s usually a slow grind that jumps from game to game as I feel like it. With Stadia, I’ve jumped around between Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and RDR2. I’ve played the Metro games and Resident Evil. I’ve competed in soccer with FIFA and explored the moon in games like Deliver Us The Moon. I’ve raced through the open world of The Crew 2 and the races of Grid. Stadia may not have had all the latest releases, but it had games I wanted to play.
Being able to play pretty much anywhere was an other appeal. I could play on my laptop, my Chromebook, on my TV or in the car on my phone while waiting to pick the kids up at school. Stadia was convenient.
There’s a lot that can be said about what could have been and who’s ultimately at fault. I’m not going to get into that here. Ultimately, for me, none of that matters anymore. I had a couple of good years with Stadia, I enjoyed a bunch of great games and in the end, the only regret I have is that I didn’t get through more of the games I actually purchased. Between now and shutdown, I’ll make an attempt to at least sample what I haven’t touched yet. The game that started it all, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, is incidentally one of those titles.
So what’s next for me? Well, incidentally, I purchased a new gaming laptop a few months ago so my need for cloud gaming has decreased to some extent. I’ve still played both Stadia and GeForce Now because of the convenience but looking forward, there’s no service right now that can readily step in to take it’s place.
GeForce Now works reasonably well. Latency is mostly on par with Stadia for my situation and the mobile app works well if you have a good connection. I’ve played Metro Exodus quite a bit that way.
Gamepass Ultimate with xCloud I’ve subscribed to for about a year now, which coincided with the addition of an Xbox Series S to our household last year. Cloud gaming works great when played on the XBox but it’s a bit hit an miss on my laptop and phone.
So, I’m not sure what to do there. I suspect I’ll be tied more to my computer than before and focus on some other games I’ve been neglecting, like Flight Simulator 2020, the recently released Return to Monkey Island as well as my go-to simulations, American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator. I’ve got Metro Exodus and Cyberpunk 2077 in progress on GeForce Now so I suspect I’ll revisit those as well.
If there’s a glimmer of positivity in all of this, it is that Google is at least refunding our purchases and several publishers have indicated they’ll work on helping with the preservation of game save data. Ubisoft has even gone as far as saying they’ll let you get a copy of the games you purchased on Stadia on PC. For me, that’s actually ideal, since most of the games I have yet to explore are Ubisoft games.
Of all the games I’ve purchased on Stadia, most I won’t bother re-buying. RDR2 I’ll likely pick up on sale at some point. The Ubisoft games I’ll enjoy through GeForce Now or locally and a few other games I’ve picked up outside of Stadia for free through various promos (such as the Darkside Detective). Yes, I’ll miss Stadia. It worked well for me. It’s a shame Google couldn’t get it to work well for them.
To the Stadia team that worked hard to make Stadia what it was, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your hard work. You gave us a service I really enjoyed. It’s a shame business decisions led to the demise of what could have been a leader in the cloud gaming space.
For those that want to connect with my on Steam (and by extension, GeForce Now) and XBox, look for my profile under TechieInAK. I’ll see you all online.