Rapid Reviews: Google Stadia and More

Google Stadia Pro 

Not long ago, Google announced that newcomers to their video game streaming service, Stadia, could receive two months of Pro membership for free. I tried it out and it was an adventure.

It took me hours to sign up because it was a little confusing on what I needed to do and what equipment I’d need. One article sounded like I needed the $130 Founder’s package while another said Stadia was free. Another article would say that Stadia worked on everything, yet another would say it didn’t work on iOS systems. I went to the sign-up page; it said I needed to download he app; I downloaded the app and it asked for my activation code. “I never got an activation code,” I said.

I ended up nearly quitting many times before I finally found the FAQ page and learned that I could use Stadia if I had a computer with Chrome. OK, I have Chrome and the right version, but it is on my Surface. Could a Surface handle Stadia? Also, I didn’t want to deal with using W, S. D, A keys to play. There were many articles stating Stadia was compatible with many game controllers. I finally found the list of controllers it worked with.

Thankfully, I finally got my account set up. I was also able to connect my controller. Seemed like I was ready. Now, I just needed to see how Stadia would react with my Surface.

It worked well. 

I don’t have the best Internet or the best computer, yet I found Stadia to work well. It didn’t lag; I could get into the games with ease; and the graphics looked as good as any console. The images were sharp and bright. I pressed the left stick and the character moved immediately. I seriously thought about using Stadia for all my gaming needs. According to Google, there is no need to get a new console nor do you need to wait for downloads or updates.

I then had some problems purchasing games. Unless I was on an Android device, I couldn’t use Google gift cards. I also couldn’t use Paypal unless I was on Android. All I could use was a credit card; not a big issue but very limiting. On PlayStation I can add to my wallet through Paypal (or credit card) or I can use gift cards. Also, Google has said that with Stadia you can play anywhere. That’s true, as long as you have an Android. Right now, you can’t use the iOS app to play games…or buy them. Google has stated that they are working on this shortcoming.

If Google ever does work it out so that I can buy games via Paypal on my computer or use gift cards (on something other than Android only) or make it so I can purchase games through the Apple app, I just might not need an Xbox or PlayStation. Instead of spending money on a $399 or more console–that you have to update every five-ish years–I’d put money towards the $130 Stadia package where I can get a controller and plugin so that I can play on my TV. Hopefully, on my TV…I’ve heard from some that not all TVs work; yet another issue for Google to work out.


Disney Sorcerer’s Arena by Glu Games Inc

I ended up liking the mobile game right away, and it wasn’t solely because they had Ian and Barley from Onward as unlockable characters. The art style was refreshing. It kind of made the characters look…mystical, like they were part of some artwork that you’d see in a magic school. 

I also liked that I could control the characters. I’ve played the Disney Heroes Battle Mode game. I like the game, but you don’t get to play as the characters. The game is 99 percent auto-play. What’s the point of having Goofy, Darkwing Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Baymax, and Stitch on a team if you can’t play as them?

What I like about Disney Heroes Battle Mode over Sorcerer’s Arena is that Sorcerer’s Arena really plays the in-app purchases game. Every five seconds is an ad. They’ve also really *cough* rigged *cough* the game in a way that you want to pay for diamonds so you can unlock characters. They also have a season pass program. Finally, unlocking characters is a little harder in Sorcerer’s Arena. When I was playing Battle Mode, I’d unlock a couple characters a week without having to spend money and/or very few diamonds (which I didn’t have to pay money for); in Sorcerer’s Arena, I feel like it takes me weeks to just unlock a one star character.

But, a Disney crossover game where you actually get to play as the characters is hard to pass up. Also, the many limited events, such as the current (as of this writing) Toy Story event, makes it feel like there is always something to do. The events also allow you to get character tokens for some of the more difficult to obtain characters.

What are some of your favorite mobile games? Let me know in the comments section.

Until next wormhole…thanks for reading! (and wash your hands–even when the lockdown is lifted)


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Google Stadia and Game Streaming

The big news in gaming (other than the Five Nights at Freddy’s teaser images) is Google’s announcement of Google Stadia. “What on Earth is this thing?” I thought. I began looking into it. Pretty soon I saw that just about everyone has something to say about it, which got me even more curious.

According to the Google Shop page, the Stadia will be a video game streaming service. The games will be on the cloud, so you’ll be able to play your games anywhere that has Internet connection and on any device. The page goes on to state that you’ll be able to shift from watching a video to playing a game.

There wasn’t much else on the page, but there was a place to enter your email address so you could be updated as news releases.

According to IGN’s article “Google Stadia Streaming Platform Launch, Game, And Feature Details Revealed,” Google plans to release the Stadia by the end of 2019–they just aren’t sure when. But sometime in the summer there will be more about pricing, what games will be available, and more.

Google plans to have the Stadia as a service without a console. They want it so anyone can use it with any device. The game controller, which you would need to buy, would connect to Google’s servers not to the device; this would allow the controller to work with any device. The developers did hint at that if you want to play the games on your TV you would need Google Chromecast–but at $35 it is still better than the $300 plus you’d spend on a console.

The controller would also allow you to capture and share gameplay and upload it to YouTube. Another Stadia feature is called “State Sharing.” This feature allows a player to create a shareable link of their progress. The player then can give out the link and other players will be transported to that spot and given all the equipment and levels the sharer had. I could see this as a cool giveaway option for YouTube gamers.

The main concerns of the gaming community that I came across is price, game selection, and lag. Players are worried that Stadia will come with a hefty membership price. Players are also concerned about Internet connection. When streaming a video, the stream is one-way–the movie comes to you and you watch it–but video games are two-way–you have the game coming to the player and the player responding. The data from the game has to travel to the player and the player’s input has to travel back. The players input also changes the course of the game and that data has to be sent back. It is a constant back and forth, which causes lag.

Hopefully as Google releases more information, some of these concerns will be addressed. The issue about lag has already been addressed somewhat in IGN’s video “Google Stadia ‘Won’t Reach Everybody Day 1’–IGN Now.” Basically, as the title says, Google knows that Stadia won’t reach everyone on launch day. Google can have the best servers in the universe, but it doesn’t matter much if the individual has a slow Internet.

Google has also repeatedly said that the Stadia will carry many AAA games like Assassin’s Creed (according to the IGN “Google Stadia Streaming Platform Launch” article), but there seems to be some concern about independent developers. The Game Theorists (under the GTLive channel) address this issue in their tea series live podcast “GTeaLive: Will Google Stadia be the Netflix of gaming?” The hosts mention how they strongly advised Google to somehow include indie games.

Personally, I would really like to be able to play a video game pretty much anywhere and not have to buy a few hundred dollars worth of equipment every time some slight new improvement comes along. But, I’m also worried about what it will do to businesses. We’ve already seen what happen to movie rental chains after Netflix started. How many more businesses will close and how many more people will lose their jobs?


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