Correction, 11/29/2020, 9:08 a.m. ET: A Google spokesperson reached out to explain that the gameplay footage shared in the video referenced below was not captured on Stadia, and is “the same footage provided to all platforms” of Cyberpunk 2077. That renders moot any observations about the footage’s quality in comparison to other trailers by extension because they’re identical. The headline has been updated to reflect that the footage wasn’t streamed on Stadia. Further, complaints about latency issues with the newly released Assassin’s Creed Valhalla don’t appear to be widespread, contrary to what the original article implied. The Cyberpunk 2077 promotion that ends on Dec. 17 includes a Stadia Premier kit (a controller and a Chromecast Ultra), not only a one-month free trial for the service. And Google’s spokesperson clarified that the company did not “resort” to doing giveaways, but rather always intended to do so regardless of customer enthusiasm for Stadia. We at Gizmodo sincerely regret the errors. The original article appears below.
Google’s fledgling cloud gaming service could really use a win after a year of technical issues and lukewarm reception from gamers. It’s resorted to literally giving Stadia and its accessories away for free to drum up some excitement, but how it handles CD Projekt Red’s oh-so-long-awaited title Cyberpunk 2077 next month—one of the platform’s most high-profile releases to date—could very well be Stadia’s make-or-break moment.
On Friday, we got our first look at how the game plays on Stadia, in 4K no less, and it’s... fine. Could be worse, could be better. You know that 10 Things I Hate About You quote? I think now I know what being “whelmed” feels like.
Google released a five-minute trailer showing off 4K gameplay footage (Warning: It contains spoilers, so beware if you’re trying to go into the story blind) of Cyberpunk 2077, which is set to release on Dec. 10 if it’s not delayed again. It should be noted that 4K streaming is only available if you subscribe to the platform’s premium tier, Stadia Pro, provided that you have a good enough internet connection. Google’s giving out one-month trial subscriptions to Stadia Pro for free too if you buy the game before Dec. 17.
The game runs smoothly in the trailer, though Google doesn’t disclose what kind of device or internet connection was used to capture the footage. So, as with all cloud gaming services, your mileage could seriously vary. Gameplay looks slightly less fluid compared to the performance we’ve seen on PCs with ray tracing capabilities and next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles, but not by any significant amount. So yeah, as I said, a thoroughly whelming performance.
If Google follows through with what the trailer promises, it could be enough to soothe the sting of Stadia’s pitiful launch numbers at the beginning of 2020. Then again, another hotly anticipated release, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, came out earlier in November and has already chalked up complaints about spotty performance and latency issues that can particularly make timed challenges a frustrating slog. Not a very promising sign, to say the least.
For what it’s worth, Google appears ready to continue throwing money at the platform for the foreseeable future. In an interview this week, Stadia director Jack Buser said the company is “unequivocally” invested in the gaming world “for the long haul” and has Stadia launches planned through at least 2023. So even if Cyberpunk 2077 ends up being a bust, Google seems prepared to stubbornly forge ahead regardless of whether gamers are using its platform (which, as it stands, they’re not).