As December 2020 draws to a close, it has actually been a solid end to the year for Google Stadia, with numerous high-profile game launches, the official branching out to Appleâ€™s mobile OS, plus plenty more twists and turns.
About Stadia â€˜Save Stateâ€™:Â This is our overview/compilation of all the updates, upgrades, and potential pitfalls for Googleâ€™s game streaming platform over the previous month. We also decompile the latest versions of the Stadia application and dig into the code online to better understand where Stadia is headed. Expect opinion, information, and speculation on all things Google Stadia, the games, and everything in-between.
Stadia now â€œofficiallyâ€� on iOS
Beyond the massive release of Cyberpunk 2077 â€” which weâ€™ll touch on later â€” the biggest news in December 2020 for Stadia as a platform was official support for iOS as a platform. Itâ€™s not a â€œtraditionalâ€� solution, as it requires iOS 14.3 and a dedicated web app to work properly. Stadia on iOS is basically the same as playing on your desktop or laptop within a browser.
Appleâ€™s frankly stupid rules regarding game streaming platforms mean that in an effort to stifle services like Stadia, this is the only way for Google to release a working version for iOS players. Itâ€™s a fairly simple process all in all. Head to stadia.google.com in the Safari browser, and you can add the web app to your homescreen for quick-launching.
At least as far as Iâ€™m concerned, the ability to play Stadia on the iPad Pro with native Bluetooth controller support is a real-world game changer. It turns an already superb productivity machine into a portable gaming rig that edges out most smartphones thanks to the larger 11 and 12.9-inch displays. Overall, it plays just as well as it does within the dedicated app on Android.
Stadiaâ€™s first â€œproperâ€� outage
Weâ€™ll be the first to tell you that the biggest hurdle with game steaming of any kind is maintaining a solid, consistent connection. After over a full year of no infrastructure issues or problems of note, December 2020 saw the first proper outage for Stadia.
Firstly, there was a Google-wide outage on December 14, with all services affected, including Gmail, YouTube, Drive, and Stadia. That wasnâ€™t long-lived, as the entire outage lasted some 45 minutes or so. Just a day later, though, Stadia went down in the UK and eligible European regions.
Some games simply fell into a launch cycle loop and were unplayable; others simply wouldnâ€™t load with other players unable to access the service. All in all, it lasted around two hours, which means that, in the space of a year, only three hours have seen the game streaming service essentially DOA. By any metric, that is pretty fantastic, even more so when you consider just how web usage has increased due to COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe.
Video â€” Stadia â€˜Save Stateâ€™ December 2020!
December 2020 new releases
For patient gamers, the launch of several high profile games on Stadia in December 2020 will have been a blessing right before the holiday period. We canâ€™t forget to mention that, yes, Cthulhu Saves Christmas is now finally on Stadia. We joke, but the biggest release in gaming in 2020 has undoubtedly been that of Cyberpunk 2077, and it arrived on Stadia in some style.
While many console players complained of terrible framerates, performance issues, a massive day-one patch, and filled with frankly hilarious glitches, those who pre-ordered on Stadia or picked it up on launch night could just sail into Night City without a worry. Possibly the most hyped game of the past five years is not without issues, but there simply were none on Googleâ€™s game streaming service. For those without a high-end PC, Stadia is the best way to play Cyberpunk 2077 without issues. It looks gorgeous, runs like a dream, and we canâ€™t recommend it highly enough.
At the end of the year, we have 154 titles as of the latest count (thanks Wikipedia) to choose from or that are listed as â€œavailable.â€� We can see why gamerz see that as a negative when other cloud services, such as GeForce Now, technically have a library of over 2,000 games to play provided you own the titles on Steam already. Ubisoft has dumped a ton of older Assassinâ€™s Creed, Watch Dogs, and other titles onto the Stadia Store for late December 2020, though, which is a good sign that Ubisoft is truly supporting the platform long term.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is a similarly large game to arrive on Stadia, with hints of Zelda Breath of the Wild and a footing in Greek mythology. Itâ€™s a comic adventure that definitely feels like a solid alternative for those looking for a story-focused adventure game with a character very reminiscent of Link.
Some notable Indie titles joined the games library for Stadia in December 2020, including Enter the Gungeon. A game that is described as a â€œbullet hell dungeon crawler,â€� which, to our mind, is effectively an insane 2D side-scrolling shoot â€™em up. Reigns is a weird Tinder-gaming hybrid that has you swiping left and right to make decisions on a medieval kingdom. Itâ€™s odd but a neat concept. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is the final new title to join the growing library:
- Assassinâ€™s Creed Origins
- Assassinâ€™s Creed Syndicate
- Assassinâ€™s Creed Unity
- Cthulhu Saves Christmas
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Enter the Gungeon
- Immortals Fenyx Rising
- Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
- Unto the End
- Watch Dogs
- Watch Dogs 2
Stadia Pro: Upcoming games for January 2020
The Stadia Pro subscription tier might not be worth it for everyone, but given that you have a wealth of games to pick up as part of the $8.99 plan, we think itâ€™s essential for avid players. December 2020 saw six titles join the Pro tier, and looking ahead to January 2020, youâ€™ll be only able to grab just four moreâ€” yes, 4 â€” games from January 1, 2021:
- Ary and the Secret of Seasons
- F1 2020
- Hotline Miami
That seems like a bit stingy by Stadia standards, but F1 2020 and Ary Secret of Seasons are priced at $29.99 (normally $59.99) and $39.99, respectively, making it a little less painful given the subscription fee.
Itâ€™s also worthwhile remembering to claim the December free titles as there will be some games leaving the Pro tier, including Celeste,Â Dead by Daylight,Â Embr,Â GYLT,Â Risk of Rain 2,Â andÂ Rock of Ages III. Be sure to grab them before New Yearâ€™s Eve 2020, though, as part of your $8.99 per month subscription fee. The count will stand at 32 titles after the additions/subtractions:
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
- SteamWorld Dig
- SteamWorld Heist PLAYERUNKNOWNâ€™S BATTLEGROUNDS
- Panzer Dragoon: Remake
- Orcs Must Die! 3
- Dead by Daylight
- Human: Fall Flat
- SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE
- Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris Celeste
- Sniper Elite 4
- The Gardens Between
- Hello Neighbor: Hide & See
- Risk of Rain 2Â
- Sundered: Eldritch Edition
- Into the Breach
- HITMAN 2
- Monster Jam Steel Titans
- Secret Neighbor
- Submerged: Hidden Depths
- Cthulhu Saves ChristmasÂ
- Ary and the Secret of SeasonsÂ
- Â F1 2020
- Hotline Miami
Stadia tidbits and highlights
A huge reason for the added hype surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia was a promotion that would net you a free Stadia Premiere edition controller so long as you pre-ordered by a certain cutoff date. The promotion proved so popular that Google had to end it early due to â€œoverwhelming demand.â€� Now weâ€™re still hoping that the player base can explode in the coming years, but this is a sign that things are starting to turn around for the service, especially as no accurate estimates are known for the size of the Stadia community at large.
The player base should get an influx globally as Stadia expanded to eight more European nations in December 2020, after being notably absent at launch. If youâ€™re in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, or Switzerland, then you can now enjoy Stadia in full from today.
Google Stadia: New features added in December 2020
Being a Google-owned product and promised essentially since launch, for avid streamers you can link your YouTube account and stream your gaming sessions directly to your channel from within Stadia. Itâ€™s pretty rudimentary and pales in comparison to a proper OBS setup, but itâ€™s a neat way to start a livestream without needing any extra gear or even any skills to set up a streaming rig.
Redesigned Stadia web app
We havenâ€™t really seen a lot of UI changes or tweaks since Stadia launched back in November 2019. A big refresh has come to the web app recently that is more cohesive and easy to navigate. The updated interface shows your most recently played game first, with three new boxes appearing off to the site. The first of those is for â€œPro Games,â€� with the second being for â€œStadia News,â€� that one linking over toÂ community.stadia.com. Finally, thereâ€™s a â€œNew Releasesâ€� section. The first and last of these new boxes are just shortcuts to those portions of the Stadia Store.
30-minute Stadia trial without needing a credit card
When signing up for a new Stadia account from December 2020, youâ€™ll see the screen below that allows users to start a Stadia Pro free trial with just a single click, no need to enter any payment information. The catch? These Stadia Pro trials are only valid for 30 minutes. Then, youâ€™ll need to enter some form of payment method to continue the regular one-month trial. It might not be a huge deal, but itâ€™s fine if people want to just test Stadia before signing up for a longer test drive.
For $15 per month, youâ€™re now able to get access to all of the Ubisoft library of games on Stadia, which might be worthwhile if you are fully invested in the developerâ€™s biggest and most well-known titles. For most people, itâ€™s likely cheaper to just pick and choose their favorites rather than paying for a subscription atop of Stadia Pro.
State Share in captures
Weâ€™ve previously mentioned the State Share capabilities potentially being utilized within your in-game captures, but the version 2.45 Android build dropped further hints upon how it might work without really fully revealing will work. In simple terms, you should be able to share a specific game clip or image and a friend can jump in at the exact point and play it for themself. This could open up challenges way beyond what is currently possible elsewhere online or offline.
Stadia on Android TV, further YouTube integration, plus more
As December 2020 comes to a close, in an interview with The Escapist, Googleâ€™s Head of Product for Stadia, John Justice, gave us some serious insight into the state of the platform, potential future plans, and how certain features may be expanded further. That included revealing that work is still ongoing on the dedicated Stadia Android TV app, which is long overdue, plus how YouTube integration is likely to expand in 2021. We canâ€™t fully do the interview justice so we recommend you tune in yourself.
Our latest Google Stadia reviews
The Game Awards 2020 revealed several new titles set to arrive on Stadia throughout 2021, with six titles confirmed as arriving on the platform. As we see Google ship or add more and more titles to the platform throughout 2021, expect to get better updates from our growing Stadia Changelog posts where we will be able to delve into the nitty-gritty of all the game updates and potential launches. However, the following games were confirmed as arriving on Stadia in the future are as follows:
- Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
- Outriders: Mantras of Survival
- Ark: Survival Evolved 2
- Humankind: Lucy
- Elder Scrolls Online: Gates of Oblivion
What have you been playing on Stadia throughout December 2020? Be sure to let us know down in the comments section below. You can also find Damien on the platform as â€œWildeâ€�, be sure to drop a message and say hi some time!
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