How Is Google Stadia Considered A Console? And What Is It’s Purpose? Let’s Take A Look!

I play a lot of games and own a lot of consoles, and am a serious gamer. So you know, I’m part of the target audience for Stadia, right? Maybe? Truthfully I’m not sure. Maybe it’s for more casual gamers who don’t really own any consoles?

I remember when Google first announced their plans to create a streaming console. They said something along the lines of “stream all the new big games, no console, no discs, just instant access to whatever you want to play, for nothing more than a monthly payment.” All Stadia would be is a controller that connects to your TV or what-have-you, and away you’ll play.

I was immediately turned off to the idea of a console that requires you to have a steady internet connection just to play it. So I stopped paying attention to it.

Well, thanks to the collector in me, and a very good deal, I found myself with a free controller and one month subscription (also for free) for Stadia and here’s what I’ve got to say.

So either they falsely marketed it, or did a very bad job communicating their vision, or in the years up to it’s release they changed what it’s all about. I never read anything about it after it’s initial announcement so I can’t really say what went on.

So firstly, the “console” isn’t based off the controller. The console is a Google Chrome-only accessible…website basically, that is more or less an online store like epicgames.com. The convenient thing about this is you can access this literally on any device you have Chrome and a Google account on. So you can game anywhere where there’s an internet connection, so gaming on the go on your phone is out.

The controller can be used to connect to your computer, TV, phone, whatever, by inputting button codes telling the controller what to connect to. This works very well. After you download a couple apps on your phone needed to connect to all of them. Oh, and you’ll also need a Chromecast Ultra if you want to play on your TV, which does come with the Stadia Premium Edition, which it’s cost has been lowered to $99, probably due to lack of interest. You can play straight away on PC though, no apps, controllers or other accessories required.

So as I said, Stadia is an online store. Except it’s a very, very small store. You can browse through it’s entirety in about two minutes, if that.

So when they announced it, it sounded like all you had to do is pay for the subscription and unlimited access to every game on the store is yours.

Well, I hate to inform you that this is not the case. What you have “free” access to is an ever-growing handful of games that are given to subscribers, much like Amazon, Sony, and Xbox subscribers receive each month. But unlike those consoles, the Stadia games seem to stay up forever, instead of only giving you a month to claim them. The subscription fee is $10 dollars by the way, which is pretty gosh-darn reasonable.

Once claimed, you can play these games as long as you’re subscribed. Once you unsubscribe, they will still stick to your account, but you will be unable to play them until you subscribe again.

This would be okay, but there are only like 20-30 games (though it’s always growing), and most of them are indie games, and the low amount of big name games are several years old.

As for the brand new big name games they boasted about being able to play when first announced, there’s a few. Not many, and most of them are UbiSoft games, because they seem to have some type of deal with the popular gaming company, and you can even link your Stadia account to your UPlay account.

How do you play these new games, and the small selection of other games on the store? Well you have to buy them of course! At full price? You bet! Though they do run some pretty good sales by the looks of it, and subscribers get even bigger discounts.

Games you buy are at least playable whether you subscribe or not. But there’s a small catch. If you are not subscribed, you cannot play your games in 4K or use the best sound quality. Drats…No big deal to a lot of people I imagine.

I did try out one game, the latest Hitman (maybe?) and played it for about five-ten minutes. It ran fairly well, only hiccuping a couple times for like a second, which happens plenty of times in games that aren’t being streamed, so at least it works.

And that is all the details about Stadia.

So let’s break down Google’s “console.”

If you want the Chromecast and controller to be able to play anywhere but your PC, you have to pay $100. If you want to just play on PC, all you need to do is subscribe on their website/store for $10/month.

Once done, you can play a handful of free games you don’t want as long as you subscribe, and have to pay for games you do want to play, but in worse quality if unsubscribed.

Where is the console part here? This is basically Steam, UPlay, EA Origin, like all the other DRM’s out there, except you have to pay for it, so it’s more like UbiSoft and EA’s versions that you can subscribe to, but you seem to get a whole lot more with them.

Steam has a controller. It’s not called a console. I just don’t get why it’s considered a console. And I don’t get why anyone would ever subscribe to Stadia. There’s literally no reason to. And if you don’t have a great connection, then what’s the point? There’s too much competition, and not only in just the gaming market. There’s just entirely too many streaming services in general, and Stadia just isn’t worth yet another monthly subscription to add to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and the other 2000 streaming services out there. So I really don’t get it, and I imagine most people are on the same side as me, as it appears to be flopping pretty hard.

So basically, I wouldn’t be surprised if the store shut down thus all the games you bought are lost. That’s pretty infuriating even just to think about, and will be even more so, like 100fold, when it inevitably happens.

A Lot Of People Wonder About Nintendo’s Console Decisions, But It Makes Complete Sense When Looking At Their Sales History

I see on the internet all the time and am even asked about it in person a lot. That is, everyone says something along the lines of “I don’t understand why Nintendo make such weird consoles and dumb decisions. Why can’t they just make consoles with good graphics. GRAPHICS, GRAPHICS GRAPHICS!”

Firstly, just improving graphics is super boring, and Nintendo is all about doing something the competition isn’t. Unfortunately, most people have that, “if it doesn’t have good graphics than it’s not a good game” mentality. Interestingly, Nintendo’s unique consoles probably have benefited not only themselves, but Sony and Microsoft as well, for many people have a Nintendo console plus one of the “high-powered” consoles, and some people have all three!

But all one needs to do to understand Nintendo’s console decisions is look at the console sales.

NES-Console-Set

Doing a quick wikipedia search, the original NES sold just under 62 million units, which blew literally everything that had come out prior to it completely out of the water and revitalized a dying industry. There wasn’t really any competition against this console, hence it’s high sales.

snes classic

The SNES, as the name implies, is really a super version of Nintendo’s original console. Sales dropped to 49 million units, probably due to the stiff competition from the Sega Genesis. It was during this rivalry that the “Bit Wars” really took off. Sega kids and Nintendo kids constantly argued about graphics and processing speed. This takes us right to modern day, where nothing seems to have changed. PC, Xbox and PlayStation fans are always talking specs and obsessing over graphics and frame rates. I believe this stems from the veterans of the 90’s bit wars, and most people heavily involved in today’s arguments and technical interests were probably kids in that era. And since current kids always look to be more adult, they have fallen into the same tech-obsessed attitude.

n64

Winning out against the Genesis and it’s many add-ons, Nintendo’s next console, the N64, ushered in the first 3D-gaming and four-player multiplayer. This new console sold around 33 million units, seeing even more decline in sales. Sega might have had something to do with this, but the monster Nintendo created is actually to blame.

After backing out of a deal with Sony to make a disc-based gaming console, Sony made their own. The PlayStation took the world by storm for some reason. Probably due to it’s discs, which allowed for bigger games and full-motion video. The console got a lot of exclusivity from third-party developers and also brought a lot more mature games to the industry. At this time, a lot of the kids who played Nintendo and Sega consoles were now teenagers and young adults, so I imagine, like humans inevitably do, they associated those companies and their games to stuff only kids play, like watching Power Rangers and Nickelodeon. It was time to move on to something for big kids. Hence PlayStation became by far the highest-selling console of all time (at that point).

gcn

Seeing how the world was absolutely obsessed with power, Nintendo entered into the next generation with a powerhouse…the GameCube. From what I understand, this was the most powerful console on the market, surpassing Microsoft’s new Xbox, and Sony’s PlayStation 2.

Nintendo had the power, but not the third-party support I suppose, and this one only sold 21 million, coming in third just behind the Xbox. The weakest of the consoles, PS2, for reasons unknown, sold an enormous amount and is still to this day the highest selling console of all time.

nintendo-wii

So with an overcrowded market of everyone competing with power, Nintendo, at an all-time low, must have said, “Clearly it isn’t just all about power, the heck with it, let’s do our own thing.” Thus they birthed the Wii, a console that sacrificed power for innovation. The Wii, especially in it’s first few years, completely obliterated the Xbox 360 and PS3. This was due to the fact that the console was half the price of the others, and more importantly, because literally everyone was curious about the first fully motion-controlled system. The Wii targeted casual gamers like no other console has done before as well.

But after a while, people reverted to criticizing the graphics, thanks to it’s significantly lower power and lack of HD. And casual gamers didn’t really do all that great of a job supporting it through it’s lifespan. Third-party support began to dwindle due to this as well, not to mention the extra work required to put their games on the console.

But that didn’t stop it from becoming by far the highest selling console of the generation and one of the highest of all time, destroying even the NES sales with almost 102 million units sold. But unfortunately, by the end of it’s lifetime, the masses lost interest in the console.

wii u

Which is probably why no one cared about the Wii U. This console tried to capitalize off the commercial success of the Wii, keeping it’s focus on casual gamers, but also putting more of an effort to please serious gamers as well.

While it was the most powerful console out for a year, the new Xbox and PS4 were just around the corner, which again completely overpowered it. This, with the lost interest of the Wii, led to low sales, which basically made the console lose almost all third-party support after it’s first year. That and again the difficulty to develop on and lower power. This became the lowest-selling console ever for Nintendo with only 13.5 million sales.

nintendo-switch

The Switch fixed a lot of the problems with third-party and they relaxed on some of the rules as well. The console is easy to develop on, they got rid of region-locking, and are far more open to putting third-party games on the console. And the console was deliberately weak from the start, so no one can really complain that it was failing to compete with the other consoles, because by now, clearly they don’t care. Though this does still create issues with development, for the Switch is missing out on some big AAA releases, though it does seem to get ports with all DLC included years later, so clearly it’s powerful enough to run the big guns.

But the biggest appeal to the Switch is the fact that it can be played as a home console, or as a handheld, something people have been wanting for a long while.

For whatever reason, while Sony generally dominates the home consoles, Nintendo has always been king to the handheld market ever since the original Game Boy came out in the late 80’s.

There has never really been serious competition in this market, save for the PSP, which sold very well, but the DS, it’s competitor, nearly sold double. While the 3DS fell short of of even PSP sales by just a little, it’s main competitor, the PlayStation Vita, sold practically nothing at all. I don’t know really anything about this handheld so I can’t imagine why.

So with the Switch giving both handheld and home gamers something to love, with all the support from other developers one could hope for, the system has become very successful and is currently the second best selling system by Nintendo to date, and will likely rise to be one of the highest-selling consoles of all time.

I have no idea if anything I said is true, but just looking at the sales and the consoles and their competition, it’s not hard to come up with these theories, and it’s easy to see that this was what Nintendo was thinking, at least to some degree. I’m sure they put a whole lot more thought into it, but this is the gist.

Maybe. But I think it’s clear a hybrid console will be what Nintendo will be sticking to, at least for a while. They might realize they made more money with separate home and handheld consoles and probably will eventually switch back to that, but at least the next gen console will be a hybrid as well.

 

Virtual Reality Gaming

With the release of the first two virtual reality gaming headsets, the HTC Vive for Steam and the Oculus Rift, and with the Playstation VR fast approaching, gaming has finally reached the technology and abilities we always talked and dreamed about as kids. But from what I can tell, this dream is more of a nightmare than anything.

Now, I am a firm believer in the whole “don’t knock it until you try it” saying, so I am saying straight away that these are just the views of someone who has not seen or tried any form of these virtual reality headsets, so I really have no basis or intention to say if they are actually good products or not.

Instead, I am speaking to you as someone who loves video games, especially companies not afraid to innovate and try something new, which is exactly why Nintendo is my favorite game company, always seemingly focused on the gameplay and experience, rather than pretty graphics, which is why we all play video games…to play them…not to look at them (or so I hope). So when I heard about virtual reality becoming a reality, I was pumped. Something new for gamers to sink their teeth into! I eagerly awaited any type of footage for some games and when the day came that footage started being shown, with more and more revealed all the time, I found myself extremely disappointed.

The games, again I have not played any of these, look terribly boring. Many of them are just walking and looking around. I realize this is the advantage of virtual reality, to make you feel like you are in the game, but there should really be a game involved in the looking around. Something immersive and amazing at the same time. I imagine like some amazing Call of Duty or God of War in first person action game, not looking around a forest and fighting some creature. Plus many of the games have the option of using regular controllers, which looks like it takes away from the experience completely, though the option is nice I suppose. There are new controllers as well, for example the Oculus Rift uses two circular controllers with buttons to allow for a much more immersive time while in the headset, though any footage I have seen from them just looks boring as well. New and innovative for sure, but completely uninteresting.

They also look like they would be more fun playing with other people, but as far as I can tell, you can only play solo, no one else can see what you see, and you can’t see them. But if you were to both have headsets, then it would be cool to look over at your friend and see his virtual self standing next to you in some game, where you can frolic through wastelands killing all sorts of bad guys and the like.

But here’s the biggest turn off to the virtual reality headsets. I just mentioned buying two of them to play with other people. If some siblings wanted to buy 2-4 of them so they can all play together, their parents might as well sell their house to pay for it.

The Playstation VR is $400, just as expensive as the PS4, the Vive is doubled that at $800. and the Occulus is $1500!

Many people would struggle to buy one of these things, so multiplayer in one household is out of the question. Even if the games looked super fun, these prices would not justify the purchase.

The only awesome game I saw was the player wielding a lightsaber and blocking lasers, though that too seemed like it would get boring rather quickly and admittedly, I probably only took interest in it because I love Star Wars so much. And this turned out to just be a tech demo and not an actual game, so there you go.

If the headsets were cheaper and the quality of games increased, I would definitely check out this new innovation in the gaming industry, but right now, I want to stay far, far away from it. Heck, even Nintendo said they have no interest in VR because it is not fun, though they might just be bitter about it because of the Virtual Boy. I wouldn’t be surprised if VR takes off that they would come out with the “New Virtual Boy.”

But I don’t really see this taking off, so I don’t think we will have to worry about that. I mean, people complained about the inability to sit on the couch and not move when they had to use motion controls for the Wii, and even about some of the motion and looking around using the gamepad on Wii U, so how in the world will people be okay with turning there head all around, moving their arms (for certain VR systems) and actually standing up!? Another thing I have heard many complaints about the Wii is those more self conscious worrying that they looked stupid while playing with motion controls. Well then how will they ever handle these new headsets and controllers?

To me, I feel like the first few times playing it will be a wonderful marvel, but once people get used to it and it no longer feels new, it will be abandoned in the corner of a closet somewhere. But odds are, it will be the most expensive thing buried in said closet.

Also, I feel like many things will get broken, household objects and bones from people banging into stuff or tripping and the what not. People were breaking stuff with the Wii Remotes, and they could fully see! Imagine that chaos while being blinded by a headset that transports your vision into a different world! Lawsuits ho!