Skip to main content

Google Stream is what Stadia should have been from the start

One year after Google shuttered the internal game development studio for its struggling cloud gaming service Google Stadia, a report from Business Insider gives a clear idea of what’s next for the tech giant’s gaming efforts. It’s reportedly moving away from making a cloud gaming platform where subscribers buy and play games. Instead, Google will use the technology in partnerships with major third-party companies under the moniker Google Stream.

As someone who has actively played Stadia since its November 2019 launch, the slow downfall of the platform has been painful. Still, Google executives never had their heart in Stadia’s potential as a commercial platform. Google Stream is what Stadia should’ve been from the start if Google wasn’t going to commit to gaming fully and, hopefully, it will play a part in cloud gaming’s bright future.

Related Videos

From Stadia to Stream

In retrospect, this endpoint for Google Stadia was inevitable. According to Business Insider, Google is pitching Google Stream to businesses as a backend cloud gaming technology that doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to the Stadia storefront. It already partnered with the exercise company Peleton and AT&T last year on different projects. Instead of putting effort into getting more exclusives or AAA games on Stadia, it’s getting more companies to white-label Google Stream. (That’s where a product or service produced by one company is rebranded by other companies to make it appear as if they had made it.)

A promotional image for Google Stadia.

It apparently pitched Google Stream to Bungie, which released Destiny 2 as a flagship Stadia title and was interested in making a streaming platform of its own. While the status of that deal is now in question due to Sony’s acquisition of Bungie, Google is also reportedly in negotiations with Capcom, which is interested in running game demos straight from its website using Google Stream.

Some Google employees even want to see how Google Stream works with nongaming tasks that require a lot of power, like 3D modeling. While these deals all might seem weird to those who’ve played Destiny 2 or Resident Evil Village on Stadia, they play to the strengths of cloud gaming and Google’s technology.

It’s better downstream

Out of every notable cloud gaming service I’ve tried, Stadia has the most consistently smooth and good-looking experience. As long as I had a stable internet connection, Stadia worked anywhere and anytime I chose. Google Stream would offer a solid infrastructure for companies that want a cloud-based experience, but can’t invest in the technology itself.

Quick demos are also an excellent use for cloud gaming technology. When I needed to boot up a game to check something out or write a guide for it, I appreciated being able to load Stadia or Xbox Cloud Gaming and quickly get what I needed without waiting for a game to install. This benefit also applies to demos, and I’ve always been shocked that Google never leaned into that strength more. Maybe its Stadia Connect presentations would have been a lot more impactful if I had been able to try the games immediately via cloud-based demos afterward.

Fenyx takes aim in Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was one of few games to get a great demo on Google Stadia.

Stadia’s biggest problem was always its game library because that was something that Google would never go all-in on. Yet, it tried to create a development studio and court big third-parties to bring its games to a whole new platform. Game development takes time, so Google settled for launch window exclusives that didn’t take advantage of cloud technology and third-party games that were a year or two old by the time Stadia was out. Google then tried to double down on that approach as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s fantastic library dwarfed Stadia’s catalog.

Google took too long to assess the cloud gaming landscape and is now doing what it should have in 2019. I am disappointed that the unique Stadia experiences promised in Google’s GDC 2019 talk will never come to fruition, but Google was never equipped to do that. This partnership-based approach will mean more people will see the great parts of Google Stadia without dealing with the bad.

With Stadia, Google tried to replace console gaming with the cloud. Instead, Google ultimately confirmed that cloud gaming is at its best when it supports a player’s gaming experience, not when it’s the primary experience.

Editors' Recommendations

This wireless workaround will give your Google Stadia controller new life
google stadia release date november 19 controller pax west 1 2

Google announced yesterday that it will shut down Stadia in January. The good news is that refunds will be given to everyone who bought all Stadia hardware, including its controller, so long as they bought it from the Google Store. You don't have to return the controller to get the refund (see the platform's FAQ page), but it doesn't have to go to waste just because Stadia is shutting down.

Users in the Stadia subreddit have been asking Google to make the firmware for the Stadia controller open source so that it would work on PC and consoles even after its namesake platform has been put out to pasture (per Eurogamer). Though Google won't be able to do that in an official capacity anytime soon, software engineer Parth Shah created a workaround tool that allows players to use the controller wirelessly over Wi-Fi.

Read more
Google Stadia shutting down in January and users are getting full refunds
Google Stadia controller.

After three years, Google Stadia is coming to an end. The Silicon Valley giant announced that the cloud-streaming platform will be going offline on January 18, 2023.

In a blog post published on Thursday, Phil Harrison, Stadia's vice president and general manager, said the company made the difficult decision to shut down Stadia because the cloud-streaming service hasn't "gained the traction with users" that it expected since its launch in 2019. This is despite the developed technology that allowed players to play demos from YouTube videos on their favorite games and then purchase them later, no console required.

Read more
Logitech made its own lightweight handheld built for cloud gaming
The Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld sits on a stack of comics.

Although I can be tough on cloud services that have faults, I actually do enjoy cloud gaming on Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate quite a bit, and I’m excited about the technology’s potential for both players and developers. Currently, most of my cloud gaming takes place on my phone, but Logitech and Tencent Games want me to start playing cloud games on a new device. In October, the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld starts rolling out, and it hopes to become the way to play cloud games.
During a hands-off preview of the device, Logitech certainly delivered on highlighting an Android-powered device with two native cloud gaming apps that players can use to enjoy games with a Wi-Fi connection. At $350, though, it feels like a solution for a niche usage problem that similarly priced devices already solve. I could see myself enjoying this device if I wanted to stream a video game from my bed or a room without my TV and consoles. Unfortunately, it seems outclassed by just the ability to stream games on a midrange-or-better phone, something anyone reading this can likely do already.

What is the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld?
From a technical perspective, the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld contains specs that wouldn’t feel out of place on a mid-range mobile device. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G octa-core 2.3GHz CPU, as well as 4GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 64GB of internal storage that people can expand with an SD card. The display is a 7-inch IPS multi-touch screen that displays at a 1080p resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate. Players can listen to audio through its stereo speaker, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack, or a Bluetooth 5.1 connection.
What sets it apart is that Logitech built the controllers into the device, giving it a Nintendo Switch-like look. It has the d-pad, analog joysticks, buttons, bumpers, and triggers expected of a modern controller, plus a Home button to bring players to the home screen and a “G button” that will access more system-specific settings. Players will be able to remap the controls however they wish, though. On top of that, players can expect the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld to have haptics feedback, a gyroscope, a light sensor, and even a built-in stereo microphone with echo canceling and noise suppression support.
These aren’t top-of-the-line specs by any means, but Logitech made this choice because the device is made for gaming natively on the device. It also allowed them to get the device’s weight down to only 463 grams and give it a battery life of around 12 hours (it uses USB-C to charge), which has never been seen on a gaming handheld. Think of the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld as an Android 11 tablet with built-in controllers, uniquely tailored UI, and access to native Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now, and Google Play Store apps.

Read more