Google held their latest Stadia connect yesterday which has been hotly anticipated by the community for weeks. It represented a beacon of hope for Stadia fans and great opportunity for Google to showcase their cloud gaming platform to the world before the Next Gen console hype train kicks in to over drive!
This Stadia connect came hot on the heels on Sony unveiling the PS5 to much fanfare with games like Gran Turismo 7, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, Stray, Returnal, Horizon Zero Dawn 2 and more, all showing the power of Sony’s upcoming console. Xbox are due to come out all guns blazing at their event next week with huge like Halo Infinite and many more, so yesterday seemed like the perfect opportunity for Stadia to make their case as the gaming platform that can hold it’s own and even surpass the established names.
So what did Stadia announce? Well things kicked off with Meagan Timney in front of the camer with a recap of how Stadia Pro works, which games are claimable now and that you can sign up for a month free. 8 months after the platform launched, the fact that they’re still having to explain how Stadia & Pro works is worrying.
Next up was a ‘new’ feature called Click to Play – This allows a link to be embedded in YouTube videos, video descriptions (and anywhere else online for the matter). Once clicked, this will instantly open the game in question and jump you right in to the action. Sounds great in theory, but you already have to own (or have claimed) the game and it didn’t work for me using the Google Pixel 3 XL. More on that later…
Click to Play sounds like a great announcement to start the Connect and it would be, if only it hadn’t already been announced at GDC in early 2019!! This has basically been a feature that was expected at launch, but has been delayed for one reason or another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to finally have it, but there’s only so many times you can re-announce features that many expected day one. Adding touch controls to the Stadia mobile app was a much bigger deal and that was only announced in a blog post, so I’m not sure Click to Play deserved it’s place here.
Next up were were taken back to upcoming games that had been previously announced. These included Cyberpunk 2077, with the statement “you can play Cyberpunk the second it launches on Stadia”. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to clear up the confusion around when Cyberpunk will be coming to Stadia but instead, all we got was the vague statement…. Of course we can play any game the second it launches on Stadia, we all know that. It’s the date that Cyberpunk 2077 will be launching that needed clarifying!
After this brief list of previously confirmed titles, there was a brief overview of being able to play Stadia on your TV with the Premiere Edition bundle for only £89.99. Again, this is something that has been widely publicised already, nothing new here.
Next up (finally) we start getting to the games! Starting with a very brief confirmation that the Mafia 2 & 3 remakes will be coming to Stadia this year (no mention of Mafia 1 curiously) and a couple of seconds of video of the games with no release date. We’ve taken almost 3 minutes of an 18 and a half minute video to finally get to the new announcements and it was over in a flash!? The 2K games montage continued with Borderlands 3 (already available), PGA 2k21 (already announced), WWE Battlegrounds (already announced) and NBA 2k21 (the current gen version, rather than the next gen version coming to Xbox Series X & PS5).
Then we were introduced to Super Bomberman R online via an almost 2 minute video. This is a 64 player take on Super Bomberman R which will be coming to Stadia first this autumn. I’m sure it will be a great little fun game and it features crowd play, but remember, around 10% off the entire Connect was dedicated to it!
Next up was Dead By Daylight, a 4 year old game that’s already available on PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox…. sure it looks good and has some Stadia specific features, but should games that are almost half a decade old be showcased in a promotional video in 2020? This could have been dropped as a separate YouTube video or blog post.
Then we were taken to an Elder Scrolls Online section which did a great job of mentioning cross play and finished with a new expansion pack which will be available on August 24th. Elder Scrolls Online is already available on Stadia, we know it has cross play and the expansion was previously announced.
Serious Sam 4 was next up, which is another previously confirmed title that will be coming to Stadia before the Xbox & PlayStation versions. Strangely there was no mention of a release date in the trailer shown, only a link to the Serious Sam 4 website, which I’m sure they expect you to visit to find out more information… the only problem being, the URL shown in the Stadia Connect sends you directly to the Steam listing for the game!!
We were whisked straight in to a trailer announcing Hello Neighbour for Stadia next. Again, this is a good game, I’ve played it on Xbox and PC previously, but it was released 2 years ago. Should older games like this be announced via a blog post or dedicated trailer on the official Stadia YouTube channel, rather than in a Connect? Hello Neighbour is coming to Stadia in September and will be free with Stadia Pro, this is great but it was almost hidden away in the text at the end of the trailer rather than mentioned explicitly.
We’re half way through the Connect at this point but we’re finally being promised a totally original title. This is it… this is the showcase title that we’ve all been waiting for…. the game that shows the world what Stadia is truly capable of …… annnnd, it’s a brand new 2D side scrolling musical game called One Man Clapping. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks gorgeous in a way that reminds me of Alto’s Adventure/Odyssey on the iPhone & iPad. From the trailer, it seems like a game that would be right at home on Apple Arcade thanks to it’s captivating beauty but it’s certainly not a game that showcases how Stadia is more powerful than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X combined! This is available on Stadia right now for only £2.49 (in early access) which is an amazing price and the art style really is captivating so I recommend you check this one out.
Square Enix are the next studio up with a trailer for their upcoming game Outriders. This looks to be a big budget shooter and it is a new game announcement for the platform. No release date provided but this is the biggest announcement so far.
Outriders was quickly followed up by the 2019 game of the year by From Software, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This is another big announcement and unquestionably a great game that will arrive on Stadia this fall. Sure it’s been around for over a year on PC, Xbox & PlayStation but it’s significantly newer than some of other titles announced so far and it was a brand new announcement to boot!
Next up we were treated to a brief trailer for PUBG Season 8 which is coming to Stadia July 30th.
Then we were quickly taken to another brand new announcement, the Hitman Trilogy is is coming to Stadia! Hitman 1&2 are arriving in September with the first instalment coming free as part of Stadia Pro. Again, I’d have like this free Stadia pro game to be given a little more fanfare (it appeared in text form in the corner of the Hitman 1 box art), but it’s a great game to have on Pro and both games are really good looking with a lot of interactivity and replay value. Hitman 3 is a brand new upcoming game which will be arriving on Stadia in January 2021. This title was initially announced at the PS5 reveal and it looked amazing, so I’m really happy to see it’s coming to Stadia too!
Next Khaled Abdel Rahmen from Stadia Entertainment and Games arrived in front of the camera to provide an overview of what they’ve been up to. Khaled announced that they’ve been working with Harmonix, Uppercut Games & Supermassive Games. This was only a tease, with Khaled saying that they’ll be ready to share more from these studios later in the year but he was prepared to show us what Splash Damage have been working on…
Cue Outcasters (not to be confused with the earlier Outriders), which will be a Stadia timed exclusive shooter. From the trailer it looks to be 2.5D top down squad based multiplayer shooter with an art style that reminds me of Little Big Planet and Splatoon. Certainly looks like it could be a lot of fun, but again, it’s certainly not pushing any boundaries or stretching the platform graphically. Outcasters will arrive on Stadia this Fall.
Finally, another timed exclusive (previously announced), Orcs Must Die 3. The Orcs Must Die franchise holds a special place in my heart after I play countless hours of the series’ second instalment on Onlive back in the day! Great to see this coming to Stadia and it was followed with the announcement that it’s available FREE to Pro subscribers straight away!
Again the ‘new’ Click to Play feature was touted as a great way to instantly access the game, but when I tried clicking the link in the official Stadia video description, I was hit with a ‘Game Not Found’ error. Not exactly the best start for the feature!
That was it. The end of the much anticipated Connect. Now if you look at this in a vacumm, then Stadia have done a good job, new features, free games, more new games, two September Pro games announced etc…. the problem is that the gaming industry doesn’t operate in a vaccumm and hot on the heels of the PS5 reveal, I can’t help but be disappointed. While Sony promised the latest and greatest graphics and games, Google came out with a whimper of many older/indie titles.
As Stadia struggles to compete graphically with the current gen of consoles, how will it compete with the rapidly approaching, ray tracing equipped, 4K packing next generation!? These are the questions that people want the answers to. With Xbox due to unveil Halo Infinite and others next week, which will inevitably be followed by another P55 event as the hype trains kicks in to over drive, it’s hard to imagine how many gamers will even remember this connect happened a month from now! For Google, that should be a worry.
You can view the full Stadia Connect on YouTube below and make your own mind up.