- I finally had a chance to try Google’s new game-streaming service called “Stadia” at Google I/O.
- It works surprisingly well, and I’m pretty particular when it comes to playing video games.
- There are still a lot questions Google needs to answer before one can decide whether Stadia is any good, like how much the service will cost and how extensive its game library will be.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
I just played a power-hungry AAA video game on a laptop that’s absolutely not designed to play video games.
And I had a great time.
I was playing “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” through Google’s recently revealed game-streaming service, Stadia. Stadia isn’t publicly available yet, but Google allowed lucky visitors to its I/O developers conference this week to get some hands-on time with the new service.
The game I was playing was running on servers in San Jose, California, about 15 miles away from the Shoreline Amphitheatre where Google I/O takes place. Typically, when I play a game, it’s on my Xbox or gaming PC, about five feet in front of me.
And this game was being streamed to a Chromebook laptop.
If you’re not already familiar with Chromebooks, suffice it to say that these machines are 100% not designed to play video games with heavy-duty, demanding graphics. They’re bare-bones laptops meant for browsing the web, streaming Netflix movies, and writing your history term paper.
Obviously, Google wanted to prove something.
So what was it like?
I’ll admit, I was slightly distracted at times. The novelty of the experience made it impossible for me not to be on the lookout for inconsistencies like lag or drops in visual quality that I wouldn’t typically experience on my console or PC. I suspect anyone else who enjoys gaming would also be looking for ways that Stadia differs from their typical gaming setup. It’s only natural to be wary of something new, especially when some of the benefits aren’t entirely clear yet.
It’s also tough to draw a definite conclusion from a demo of something that hasn’t been released yet. And consider that I tried Stadia at a Google event, where the company has control over the internet infrastructure that’s all-important for Stadia’s streaming performance.
But, at least in this context, I can report that it felt just like playing on my Xbox at home.
There was no perceivable lag or latency during my short time playing the demo. The graphics looked great, and the game ran smoothly. There were no stutters or jitters.
The game’s character moved the moment I’d push the Stadia controller’s joystick, and she would swing her sword instantaneously the moment I’d press the button. The game’s scenery and details looked no different to what I’d see on my Xbox, too.
Google still hasn’t answered important questions about Stadia, like pricing and the selection of games that will be available to play. A lot of Stadia’s success and value will depend on those answers.
But if Google gets it right, Stadia will bring some big benefits. For one, it will let people play big power-hungry games with beautiful graphics on almost any device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, TV, or even a $US200 laptop. You wouldn’t need to buy a games console or a PC with powerful specs.
Secondly, it will let you play a game on any device almost anywhere there’s an internet connection – just as long as the internet connection is good enough.
For anyone interested in games but not quite ready to invest in a dedicated gaming console or PC, Stadia could be an easy way to become a gamer.
And for gamers like me, who log hours of action on consoles and high-end gaming rigs at home, Stadia could be the perfect travelling companion – a lifesaver for work trips like the one I’m on right now. Indeed, I’d love to have the option to boot up “Battlefield V” after a day at Google I/O.
Google will reveal more details about the Stadia service this summer. And based on my first taste of it, I can’t wait to hear what Google will have to say.
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