When Google Stadia first launched last year, a lack of exclusive perks made the service seem more like a cool tech demo than something you'd actually want to pay top dollar for.
An online service that allows you to play new games through the magic of cloud-streaming, without needing a console, a powerful PC, or even storage space for a download - this is what Stadia offers, but for a lot of gamers, it didn't seem like an obviously-appealing add-on for their pre-existing set-up.
But now, as we near the end of 2020, Google Stadia finally seemed to be proving its worth - just in time for a huge Google outage to knock the service out of action, albeit temporarily.
Keep on reading to learn more about this bizarre happening...
2020 was making a case for Google Stadia...
As time went by, more developers began to show their support for Google Stadia, which made the service - at long last - start to look a little more appealing.
For example, in October, Larian launched the hotly-anticipated Baldur's Gate 3 into an early access period on PC and Stadia. Players on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo platforms were left out of the party altogether, with no whiff of a console release for the game. So you can see why the option to play Baldur's Gate 3 on Stadia looked rather appealing to some people - namely those who don't have a gaming PC.
And then, when Cyberpunk 2077 launched just days ago, CD Projekt Red's highly-hyped game was also available on Google Stadia. And with reports of the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game being riddled with bugs, the option to access a high-quality stream of the game through Stadia was actually a pretty cool offering.
In fact, I was playing the Stadia version of Cyberpunk 2077 just this morning, and it ran very smoothly indeed - in a couple of hours of gameplay, I didn't see any huge bugs. It was like my naff old Macbook Air had transformed into a proper gaming device, through the magic of the internet.
At almost the exact same time, the Cyberpunk 2077 developers at CD Projekt Red were offering refunds to dissatisfied console gamers. Again, Stadia was making a great case for itself!
... but then Google went down!
A couple of hours after I'd closed Stadia and started my working day, I suddenly realised that I couldn't load a Google Doc. I couldn't refresh my Gmail inbox. I couldn't watch a YouTube video. And, indeed, I couldn't boot up Stadia and jump back into the game.
In a very rare moment of wobbliness from the global internet giant, Google seemed to have some serious troubles at around midday GMT today. Although Google Search itself seemed to be fine, the fact remains that Docs, Gmail, YouTube and Stadia all crashed for a noticeable period of time.
This does, of course, remind us of one core issue with putting all your eggs in the Stadia basket: as you'd find with any online streaming service, Stadia will only work if Google can keep it online, and you need to be connected to the internet the entire time you play via Stadia. There's no option to download a game and play offline.
Although no link has been confirmed between the Cyberpunk 2077 launch on Stadia and Google's short-lived outage, the correlation of these two events could give players reason to pause and consider their options, rather than rushing headfirst into Stadia membership just to play Cyberpunk 2077 in a high-quality way.
The outage has ended now, with Stadia coming back online, and I haven't personally been put off by this whole situation. I'll be sure to carry on my playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia.
But still, it'll be interesting to see whether the whole 'you need the server to be working, and you need your internet connection to be strong' situation will hinder the chances of a mass migration of gamers onto Stadia. We'll just have to wait and see...
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