Google Stadia’s 12-game launch lineup leaves a lot to be desired

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Google Stadia will launch with 14 games, leaving a lot to be desired from the video game streaming service.

The sparse launch lineup for Google Stadia presents a massive challenge for the new platform.
Google announced the launch lineup for the Google Stadia streaming service in a blog post Monday afternoon. It’s not exactly a barn burner. The games available immediately on November 19 are as follows:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Destiny 2: The Collection
  • GYLT
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

For those of you counting at home, that’s one original game, three Tomb Raider re-releases, two rhythm games, two fighting games and a game made for the Nintendo Wii. Google also announced that several other games will reach the platform before the end of the year, including Borderlands 3, Final Fantasy XV and Football Manager 2020. In total, Google plans for the service to have 26 titles by the end of the year; a decision that makes one question why the extra 14 titles, none of which are new releases, aren’t on the platform day one.

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The first batch of games is a huge statement of confidence from Google. Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown and Thumper will be key test cases for the platform’s early viability. Thumper is a rhythm game that requires precision button presses from players and severely punishes mistakes. Kombat and Shodown are fighting games; their reliance on perfectly timed inputs should not have to be explained. If these three games play on Stadia without a hitch, then the platform will likely be practical in the near future from a technical perspective (if not from a financial one). However, if the games run into problems not only will it mean Stadia’s functional launch lineup is smaller, but it will also call into question the technical viability of the platform.

Gaming streaming services have been plagued by input lag issues in the past, but none have had the internet infrastructure Google has at its disposal. Google is likely the Western company most capable of pulling off a gaming streaming service. If even they have long-term issues, then the entire concept could prove moot.

Google has yet to offer pricing for individual games. To play a launch, users will have to buy a $129.99 Founder’s Edition bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, controller, three months of Stadia Pro and another three months to give to a friend. The launch date for Stadia’s free service has yet to be announced.