Google’s foray into gaming has arrived, not with a bang, but a series of clear screw-ups. This is unexpected from the international company many consider to be the standard-bearer for industry disruption.
From pre-launch to launch, just about everything that could go wrong did.
Products failed to ship on time, with founders receiving their codes or controllers later than the November 19th arrival time promised. Users had to wait for their controller before playing, in effect ensuring the Stadia functioned like a console, by requiring the actual product to be in the hands of players, before being able to play.
Advertising clearly oversold the current capacity of the product including the inclusion of base services such as Google Assistant or social features.
Perhaps more worrying for many, most if not all games did not stream in native 4K, instead being upscaled from an inferior quality product to a 4K output.
The problems continued. Instead of the standard 20-30 games on launch, Stadia would begin with roughly a dozen, thankfully that number was raised after intense public outcry from the gaming base.
That outcry though doesn’t seem to have fixed the Stadia store where bundles seem to actually cost more than purchasing the products separately.
While these problems are serious and show a definite lack of understanding from Google when it comes to the gaming industry and perhaps even its own product, the mistakes did not decimate the product, at least for myself.
Once in my hand, and Red Dead purchased, I found myself seamlessly playing on my phone, computer, and TV in a seamless fashion. I could then switch to Assasins Creed a 70 GB + download within seconds.
I paid roughly $200 Canadian dollars to have access in theory to a permanently upgraded rig, alongside a $10 monthly fee.
For a PC gamer who normally spends thousands on a computer, the cost savings where serious. The flexibility though of being able to play virtually anywhere in my house including my bed and my girlfriend’s home was perhaps the most satisfying.
While certainly not as detailed as the Xbox One Pro, PS5, or high-end PC, there’s no denying that Google has put forward a product that can disrupt the entire industry, especially as updates continue to roll out and internet speeds continue to rapidly increase especially with the coming addition of 5G networks.
This is perhaps why the overall failure of Google to roll out its product properly is most disappointing.
Google had in its hand a truly revolutionary product that could take a serious share of the gaming market from the big four standard devices and it chose to rush it out instead of waiting a few extra weeks and calming down its marketing in order to keep expectations in line with reality.
Will that mistake harm the product long-term?
For now, I’d venture that the product can grow, but only if Google actively focuses on improving it by reaching the promised 4K native stream and bringing on far more games before competitors from Nvidia or Microsoft make it on the broader market.