After what feels like years of speculation (largely because it has been), we’re now closing in rapidly on the launch of Google’s Stadia gaming hardware. November is the scheduled release date for Stadia, and details are now being announced about the subscription packages people can sign up to. Irritatingly, Google is yet to confirm specific pricing (although $130 for a ‘Foundation Package’ is being talked about a lot), but that information is expected to arrive in a small number of days. Until then we have something much more exciting to talk about – the initial line-up of games that will be playable on the platform.
‘Playable on the platform’ might be the wrong way to talk about it. Technically speaking, no games will be played ‘on’ Stadia at all. Google’s new gaming baby is a streaming service, and one which Sony and Microsoft will be watching with a great deal of interest – and probably a pinch of anxiety. If people quickly adapt to the idea of streaming their games through a web browser or a smart television, the whole idea of owning a video gaming console might become as archaic as the Nintendo Game Boy seems to the current era of gamers. As both Sony and Microsoft have new consoles up their sleeves for the near future, a big change in gaming habits would be disastrous for their business model.
There are just under 40 games announced for Stadia at launch – which is a lower figure than some people expected – but who can play more than five or six video games at the same time anyway? 40 is a fine place to start, and more are bound to be added soon after launch. There are some interesting decisions to talk about from the list that we’ve seen, though.
Tomb Raider Triple Header
Lara Croft is the video game star who’ll never go away. If she were a real all-action tomb raider she’d currently be gearing up for retirement – it’s been 24 years since she first swung onto our screens – but as nobody ages in the virtual world, she’s fighting fit as ever. In fact, she’s having one of her biggest years in ages. As recently as May, she re-appeared in the world of slots casino when ‘Lara Croft: Tombs and Temples’ was released. Mobile slots aren’t a new environment for Lara – an official ‘Tomb Raider’ mobile slots game was released years ago – but the fact that developers think she’s still popular enough to make her the star of a new mobile slots game in 2019 tells you a lot about her staying power. It seems Google Stadia agree.
Lara is represented not just once, but three times on the list. At launch, Stadia players will be able to enjoy ‘Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition,’ ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider,’ and ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider.’ No other gaming franchise is as well-represented within the launch package as ‘Tomb Raider.’ If you’re a Lara Croft fan, your luck is in. It’s just a shame there won’t be a new game to enjoy.
Google Want To Prove The Lag Doubters Wrong
As with any new idea or technology, Stadia is not without its fair share of naysayers. According to those naysayers, playing the games via streaming will result in lag as instructions pass from your controller, through the internet, to the hardware running the game. Presumably, the people who make these criticisms have never participated in online gaming of any kind. Google obviously want to address that concern as quickly as possible – ‘Mortal Kombat 11’ is on the list.
If you recall the furor that came after its launch in April this year, the eleventh ‘Mortal Kombat’ game is a little difficult to pick up and play. If there was a delay issue affecting Stadia users, the game would become almost impossible. Google must be confident that they have the technology right if they’re making this game available to players, because if they’ve got it wrong, there will be criticism all over again.
Streaming Football Manager
The one game that’s caught everybody by surprise is ‘Football Manager,’ the soccer management simulator which has long been popular with PC and mobile gamers, but never made any impact as a console game. That’s because there’s very little ‘play’ involved – ‘Football Manager’ is about tactical simulation, and for a modern game features virtually no graphical demands whatsoever. Google knows a thing or two about marketing though, and so they know how popular the game is with sports fans. If they can coax ‘Football Manager’ players across to Stadia for the game’s 2020 version, they can probably keep them there for the long term.
There’s a second message in including this, too – Stadia won’t just be about console games. Because streaming can be performed on any piece of hardware, there’s no reason not to include games from all formats. In the future, Stadia could include popular mobile games, old-school classics, the latest PC gaming hits, and all the latest console titles. The possibilities are almost endless.
There Will Be Exclusives
If Stadia had just been a way to play other people’s games, or play games from other platforms, the novelty would probably have worn off quite quickly. We’re therefore relieved to see that Stadia is going to be treated as a platform in its own right, and will have exclusive games. In the beginning, there will only be two – ‘Gylt’ and ‘Orcs Must Die 3,’ but it’s probably safe to assume that various game designers are busily working on Stadia-exclusive content as we speak. A great exclusive game is exactly what Stadia needs if Google is going to persuade people to part for their hardware instead of the latest PlayStation, so from their point of view it’ll be a case of the more exclusive titles, the better.
There’s plenty more to look forward to in the initial release – ‘NBA 2K,’ ‘Just Dance,’ ‘Doom’, ‘Cyberpunk 2077,’ ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,’ and ‘Final Fantasy XV’ are all among the list of confirmed games, but it was the games we’ve listed above that we found most interesting. What do you like the look of? Have they made a big mistake by leaving something out? As always, we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!