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Google Stadia Review

Google Stadia is a games system unlike any other, being based entirely in the cloud and without an actual physical console. Is it a viable alternative to traditional gaming, or does Google still have work to do?

What we love — Affordable and adaptable

When it comes to buying the big boy consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X will set you back by almost half a grand each, but one of Stadia’s great advantages is its cheap cost. At its cheapest, it currently just costs an £8.99 per month subscription; even the optional Premiere Edition bundle, which includes a controller and the Chromecast Ultra required for TV play, just costs £119.

Adaptability is this games system’s other great strength; you can play Stadia on the TV (via the Chromecast Ultra), on a laptop or PC via your internet browser, or on your smartphone (though currently only Google’s own phones, such as the Pixel 5, can support Stadia). On top of that, you can play with any controller of your choosing.

What we don’t like — No offline mode, and unstable connection issues when online

Due to the very nature of Stadia you can’t play it when you’re offline, which is a considerable disadvantage when this ability is offered as second nature by all its rivals. When you are online, it’s advisable to have an internet connection of at least 10Mbps (although we did manage to play it on lower speeds), though even at 20Mbps you’ll notice that images can be grainy and compression is a consistent niggling issue. That said, if you have a fast and reliable enough connection to achieve 4K visuals (at least 35 Mbps, and unfortunately not possible via browser), the effect is jaw-droppingly impressive.

On top of that, Stadia suffers from a lack of tempting exclusives, especially as Google recently closed its internal games development studios.

Verdict

Google Stadia mostly delivers on the unique  adaptability only made possible by streaming, but it’s held back by some reliability issues and a lack of any offline option. In its current iteration, we reckon this is still a long way from being the future of gaming that we had hoped for.

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