Initial reviews of the Google Stadia cloud gaming system aren’t great

For just £119 you can buy a controller and a three-month subscription to Google’s new games streaming service, but is it worth even that?

We haven’t had a go on it yet, but it’s worth a look at what those who have are saying about it as a thriving cloud gaming industry could have significant telecoms implications. If, as has happened with music and video, people increasingly access games from the cloud rather than local storage then that will be another significant strain on networks, but possibly also an opportunity to upsell premium connectivity.

There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now,” advises The Verge. “Google has made sure of that, partly by underdelivering at launch and partly with a pricing scheme that sees you paying three times (for hardware, for the service, for games) just to be an early adopter.”

“Many Stadia-exclusive features that were supposed to set the platform apart also aren’t ready in time for launch, despite being discussed publicly since March,” laments Ars Technica. “Maybe one day these features and more will put Stadia at or above par with other game platforms. Right now, across all three hardware use cases, the platform itself feels a bit half-baked.”

“Ultimately, the only real benefit of the system is the absence of that box under the TV,” scoffs the Guardian. If your impeccable sense of interior design values that above game selection, price, offline play or community size, go for it. Otherwise, stick with a home console if AAA games are where your heart lies, or pick up Apple Arcade to see what a revolution looks like when it focuses on the games and not the technology.”

“Until Google finds a way to loop in YouTube and develop truly unique competitive large-scale games, Stadia isn’t worth your time yet,” sighs Cnet. “Yes, the future is possibly wild, and you can see hints of the streaming-only cloud-based playground Stadia wants to become. But we’ll see what it shapes into over the next handful of months and check back in.”

What’s remarkable is how unsurprising this is. Google is terrible at product launches to the extent that they have an almost apologetic feel. This is clearly a very early version of the service that Google is hoping a few compulsive early-adopters will provide unpaid beta-testing for. The main problem with this approach is how to relaunch it when you think it’s finished and might actually be worth bothering with.

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