February’s just around the corner, and with a new page on the calendar comes new freebies for Google Stadia Pro subscribers. However, the upcoming offerings for the premium-tier game streaming platform won't be met with a warm reception, at least based on a recent kerfuffle within the community kicked off by a critical post in the Stadia subreddit.
According to 9to5Google, which claims to have viewed early promotional materials from the Silicon Valley titan, the two games that will be free for Stadia Pro subscribers in February are the timed exclusive Gylt and and 2019’s Metro Exodus. Google has yet to officially confirm that these are indeed the offerings for February 2020.
The latter was a standout first-person-shooter of early 2019, but it’s also a year old at this point. That means if you’ve been dying to play it, you likely already have. Also, with Destiny 2 already part of the five-strong Pro assortment of free titles, those looking for an FPS have a pretty solid option regardless. Gylt, an atmospheric adventure game about bullying, seems intriguing in a Life Is Strange sort of way, but isn’t a platform-seller (or even a subscriber retainer).
“Feels like the project is already dead.”
The Stadia reveal took the industry by storm less than a year ago at the Games Developer Conference. Games journalists pondered the seemingly imminent end of the console era. Guides writers fretted at the thought of being rendered obsolete by Google Assistant. Curious consumers wondered: Could a little Chromebook really replace a high-spec gaming rig? Then, Stadia actually launched in November as a laggy, underwhelming mess far from ready for prime time.
On January 27, redditor and Stadia Pro subscriber u/Gizoogle shared their frustration with the platform’s lacking features and updates a whopping 69 days since the platform's November 19 launch. Among the standout issues they honed in on were a lack of updates about promised features, like iOS compatibility and family sharing; and overall poor communication from the community team about upcoming game releases.
The post racked up more than 8,000 upvotes and 1,000 comments on the subreddit, suggesting that these sentiments are pretty common among Stadia's fledgling community. In the comments, other users echoed these complaints, expressing reluctance to renew their Pro subscription for $9.99 per month after their free three-month trial period comes to a close.
The top comment suggested extending the free trial period to six months to reflect the slower-than-expected rollout of features for the platform, yet signed off by sending a very clear hint that even this gesture might not be enough to keep them onboard. "Feels like the project is already dead," they wrote.
Google "oversold and underdelivered," said another. Others noted that they might have felt differently had the company marketed Stadia in its current form as a beta, rather than a full-throated launch.
In mid-January, Stadia reps shared a roadmap for the first three months of the year, in which they stated "more than 120 games" would be coming to the platform in 2020, along with enhanced 4k and Google Assistant support, compatibility with more Android devices, and wireless gameplay on the web.
Even if Google does manage to bring all these features online in the coming weeks and months, the core issue remains that Stadia needs a bigger library to bring people through the door. Sure, there's some marquee games available on the platform already, like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Destiny 2, but there needs to be more variety to its offerings. Stadia also needs to more clearly define its audience — is it casual or hardcore gamers? Despite the platform's evident affinity for graphically intense shooters and adventure games, it could benefit from skewing more family-friendly with its future offerings.
With the PS5 and Xbox Series X due out at the end of the year – and possibly an enhanced version of the Nintendo Switch — Stadia's got an uphill battle in the months ahead. But if any company has the money to make miracles happen, it's Google.
Stadia Premiere Edition is available now for $139.