I seem to stand in a thinly populated corner of the room when it comes to Stadia. Because I actually like it.
The new streaming platform from Google was polarising well before launch, and those with contrary opinions have seen little to change their minds.
The inherent mistrust of Google is a significant part. There are suspicions in the gaming community over data capture and subsequent usage (or abuse). That’s fair, I think.
It is also a shared concern of mine that, given their track record, the search engine giant may well abandon this whole endeavour in a year. Consumers would be left in the lurch.
What appears to get the greatest hate, though, is the business model.
Some people are convinced that you are paying full price for a game you will never own. I understand this argument while physical media still exists. Still, anyone buying all digital (which I do) has little extra rights to their games than on Stadia.
One example is Bioshock on iPhone. I own that game, but can’t download it, ever again.
Another is the Catalina update on macOS, removing all 32-bit Steam games. Which were most of them.
The majority of attacks on the business model object to the concept of having to pay to play games you own. I’ve seen it multiple times on community threads.
This is slightly disingenuous, though. You don’t need a subscription to buy and play games, especially now Stadia Base has launched. You need to pay monthly to play in 4K, which is a sticking point for some.
If you do resent paying for a privilege that shouldn’t be separate from a game purchase, it’s sweetened by an ever-growing list of games for Stadio Pro members.
The angry forums don’t necessarily see it that way. Eventually, someone asks the question: ‘who signed off on this business model?‘
Despite the scepticism of the (apparent) masses, there is precedent for what Stadia is doing.
It’s not Netflix for games.
Stadia is Audible for gaming.
For £7.99 a month on Audible, you get a credit to buy any audiobook. This becomes part of your library. You can purchase other audiobooks, which also become part of your library. And Audible offers a wealth of podcast and fiction books to listen to with the ‘only on Audible’ tag.
If you cancel, you keep what you have bought with credit and money, but lose access to everyone get else.
This is similar to Stadia. Each month you subscribe, you get free games. You can buy any other games you like, steam them and play online multiplayer etc.
If you cancel, you keep the games you paid for, can play them on any device with access to chrome or a Chromecast, except the Stadia pro games. That’s the main difference to Audible.
Apart from that, it’s very similar (note – not the same, the 4K issue remains).
I found Audible strange when I first signed up, but I got used to it. In the end, I cancelled my sub because I wasn’t using the free content enough.
On Stadia, the free content is solid so far, and I’m building a diverse collection. But I’ve also bought a few games I’m enjoying as well.
As with both, if I leave, then reactivate the monthly premium, I get full access back. It fosters the more friendly ‘drop-in, drop-out’ feel, far preferable to the more punitive approach to leaving a subscription other services adopt.
I’ll never convince those who dislike game streaming versus console ownership to change their minds. I don’t want to either, opinions are personal and should be respected.
I also won’t argue against the criticism levelled at Google. It just seemed to me that a lot of ire was directed towards the business model, and I’m not sure the objection holds up under scrutiny.