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Google adds Free Weekends to Stadia starting with Borderlands 3

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Google's game streaming service Stadia continues to gradually roll out new features, one of which went up yesterday with Free Weekends now being a thing. Plus, another round-up on recent Stadia info.

I'm surprised it actually took this long. Free Weekends are a great way to trial games, and something Steam has been doing for quite a long time now. Partly thanks to demos at some point becoming more of a rarity. The thing is, for a game streaming service like this it makes a whole lot more sense, since there's no lengthy initial downloads. You can jump in practically instantly and see if you like it and play a good few hours. Then perhaps buy it.

Pictured: how it looks now on the Stadia store.

The only thing that's dumb about the Stadia version of a Free Weekend, is that at least in this case it's locked to Stadia Pro, so only people subscribing with the monthly payment can use it. I feel that if Stadia opened up such an important trial feature to everyone, that might see more people actually use it. Especially since it's all in the cloud, it saves all your progress and so you could come back to it any time across computers and other devices. The convenience of it continues to be a big pro for it (despite plenty of other drawbacks - bandwidth, latency, country availability and so on).

On top of Borderlands 3 being free to play on Stadia until Aug 10, 2020 around 7AM UTC it's also on sale.

In other Stadia news, here's a little round-up of other happenings:

  • Physics-based puzzle game Relicta is out now on Stadia
  • Orcs Must Die! 3, currently a Stadia exclusive is getting a free update on August 10 with Weekly Challenges, improved performance, a few graphics improvements and more.
  • Marvel Avengers launches for Stadia on September 4
  • Serious Sam 4 launches for Stadia on September 24 (all platforms delayed to that date)
  • Apple have decided to ban both Stadia and Microsoft's xCloud from their mobile devices

Something else that's interesting: after the release of Celeste to Stadia, game porter and software developer Ethan Lee did a little write-up of the process. The details are certainly interesting, especially how "Stadia is truly remarkable in that it is literally just a Linux system without a desktop or display server" and how so little was changed between the desktop Linux build to get it live on Stadia. It goes to show that many Stadia games could likely work just fine on a standard Linux desktop although then we do have the issue of supporting many different hardware/software configurations, which Stadia does take away. Still, Lee mentions how developing for Stadia is quite nice and they "would much rather develop for Stadia than any console". Worth a quick read for sure.

You can play Stadia on Linux with Chromium/Chrome on Stadia.com.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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22 comments
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Patola 7 Aug
From the linked Ethan Lee blog post:

QuoteObviously I can't share any of its contents, but between the API itself and the dev environment it actually makes me really sad that Stadia is a streaming platform and not a local hardware platform, as I would much rather develop for Stadia than any console... it's a real shame that it's cloud-based, because it really is a technological feat in pretty much every other regard. I just really like having my hardware and software run locally a wee bit too much compared to the average person.
-- Ethan Lee

We gain a lot of Freedom with Stadia because of the titles we could not play otherwise, like Destiny 2. We also gain freedom from expensive hardware configurations. Is it worth the loss of Freedom of how we play these titles? Not saying it isn't, just a philosophical question. Maybe a rhetorical one, that does not even need to be answered.
With GeForce NOW now working in Wine, there is little reason to use Stadia, except for maybe playing PUBG.

https://lutris.net/games/geforce-now/

I cannot ever see myself buying games off Stadia when those games cannot be installed and played locally. With Google's track record of killing off less successful products, your money spent on Stadia games is likely to be lost at some point. Subscribing and playing the free / included games is fine but again GFN has a much bigger selection of anti-cheat enabled titles, while everything else should be played in Proton / Wine.


Last edited by Xaero_Vincent on 7 August 2020 at 11:45 am UTC
Liam Dawe 7 Aug
Quoting: Xaero_VincentWith GeForce NOW now working in Wine, there is little reason to use Stadia, except for maybe playing PUBG.

https://lutris.net/games/geforce-now/
There's plenty of reasons. GeForce NOW in Wine can break at any time, and NVIDIA are under absolutely no obligation to get it working again. It's entirely down to the community. If I pay for something I want to put time into, I want to know I actually have something there that has my back. Stadia has that, GeForce NOW on Linux does not and last I tried with the Lutris script (when they announced it), the experience was terrible. Stadia remains great (technically speaking) and *can* help towards Linux ports as Ethan has shown (and others have too) just how close the Stadia builds are to normal Linux, whereas GeForce Now is just Windows in the cloud.

Quoting: Xaero_Vincentwhile everything else should be played in Proton / Wine
As always, different services for different people. Gaming does not need to be a one-size fits all thing. There is no "you should do it this way". I firmly disagree with that sort of thinking.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 7 August 2020 at 12:00 pm UTC
mirv 7 Aug
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Quoting: PatolaFrom the linked Ethan Lee blog post:

QuoteObviously I can't share any of its contents, but between the API itself and the dev environment it actually makes me really sad that Stadia is a streaming platform and not a local hardware platform, as I would much rather develop for Stadia than any console... it's a real shame that it's cloud-based, because it really is a technological feat in pretty much every other regard. I just really like having my hardware and software run locally a wee bit too much compared to the average person.
-- Ethan Lee

We gain a lot of Freedom with Stadia because of the titles we could not play otherwise, like Destiny 2. We also gain freedom from expensive hardware configurations. Is it worth the loss of Freedom of how we play these titles? Not saying it isn't, just a philosophical question. Maybe a rhetorical one, that does not even need to be answered.

My own views (which kind of don't matter and are therefore great for Internet chat fodder) is that right this instant, perhaps that loss of Freedom (I'll keep the capital 'F' there) may not seem much, but it gets paid for down the line.

Ultimately the gaming is not in your control, it's in Google's. If Google remove a game from Stadia or shut the service down, then your access to the game is gone. Also, it relies on specifically Chrome, rather than Chromium, as far as I'm aware. So I'm not liking that aspect too much either - it means Google control not only what you play, but ultimately on what client hardware you're allowed to play it.

I also don't like how it appears that some of the API interfacing for SDL that Ethan wrote can't be in the open. That sucks - I personally want the ability to code for a platform to be Freedom based. Which kind of sums up my opinion on most things relating to open source: I would like everything open in the ability to use a system, and the user can choose to run closed source software if they wish; I prefer game code to be open, but if it's closed then I think everything up to the ability to launch that game should be open.
Maybe this will sort itself out: if Google want more developers to have games ready for Stadia, they might allow SDL to incorporate some changes upstream. Maybe. Doubt it personally when it comes to Google, but maybe.

In terms of playing a game via streaming, that in and of itself I have absolutely nothing against. The user should be well aware of their own Internet connection, and what options they do and don't have regarding the game (i.e they can't install custom mods). Just want the ability to play the game in a streaming format to be more Free.

-- edit: I'm not anti-Stadia, I do use it, I think it's nice and want it to continue, but I'll almost always point out my concerns over lack of software Freedoms with anything (Steam included!).

-- edit2: as Liam pointed out, it does work with Chromium, but my point still (at least slightly) stands were I to want to use, say, Firefox. So long as Google aren't preventing other browsers or hardware platforms though, then that's ok - so if someone could, in theory, write a completely standalone application if they wished for example.


Last edited by mirv on 7 August 2020 at 12:44 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 7 Aug
Quoting: mirvUltimately the gaming is not in your control, it's in Google's. If Google remove a game from Stadia or shut the service down, then your access to the game is gone. Also, it relies on specifically Chrome, rather than Chromium, as far as I'm aware. So I'm not liking that aspect too much either - it means Google control not only what you play, but ultimately on what client hardware you're allowed to play it.
Just as a quick correction (which is noted in the article) it works fine on Chromium, I don't use plain Chrome ever.
dubigrasu 7 Aug
Quoting: Xaero_VincentWith GeForce NOW now working in Wine, there is little reason to use Stadia, except for maybe playing PUBG.

https://lutris.net/games/geforce-now/

I cannot ever see myself buying games off Stadia when those games cannot be installed and played locally. With Google's track record of killing off less successful products, your money spent on Stadia games is likely to be lost at some point. Subscribing and playing the free / included games is fine but again GFN has a much bigger selection of anti-cheat enabled titles, while everything else should be played in Proton / Wine.
There are some downsides to GFN compared to Stadia, at least at this moment and specifically through Wine.
One is that the color range is limited, as in no pure black&white (even on Windows) and as a result the colors are washed out. You can workaround it by adjusting the contrast, but that's just a compromise. That'll be OK for a TV, but not on a monitor.
The second one is increased latency when running through Wine, I get a round trip of 32ms on Windows and 48ms through Wine. On Stadia I get 30ms on both Windows or Linux (yep, the closest server is pretty far from me).
That being said, GFN is pretty much a WIP so things might change, although I don't know how the limited color range can be fixed.

Edit: Ah, I've meant to say GFN through Wine is WIP.


Last edited by dubigrasu on 7 August 2020 at 12:33 pm UTC
mirv 7 Aug
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Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: mirvUltimately the gaming is not in your control, it's in Google's. If Google remove a game from Stadia or shut the service down, then your access to the game is gone. Also, it relies on specifically Chrome, rather than Chromium, as far as I'm aware. So I'm not liking that aspect too much either - it means Google control not only what you play, but ultimately on what client hardware you're allowed to play it.
Just as a quick correction (which is noted in the article) it works fine on Chromium, I don't use plain Chrome ever.

Ah, my apologies, both for incorrect information and apparently not reading things through properly the first time around! Cheers for the info.
Zelox 7 Aug
QuoteWe gain a lot of Freedom with Stadia because of the titles we could not play otherwise, like Destiny 2. We also gain freedom from expensive hardware configurations. Is it worth the loss of Freedom of how we play these titles? Not saying it isn't, just a philosophical question. Maybe a rhetorical one, that does not even need to be answered.

You can have the same argument for the upcoming Microsoft xcloud and the rumored steam cloud gaming.
Im pretty sure we can expect something like this from steam judging by there steam link app, home streaming, and the way you can stream games from your pc to your phone from anywhere. If you look at where the market is going, its also heading to streaming games, I think this generation of consoles is the last one, the next will just be streaming.

If I should speculate, I dont think stadia is worth it, judging by googles other projects it can shutdown anytime,its expensiv and doesnt have meny titles. I would not move to stadia if it was cheaper, hade more titles. Im to invested in steam, I like what valve do with linux and gaming in general. Steam is far from perfect tho.
And what google does with your info is something Im not fund of. I do use google alot myself, and its very very hard to escape there influence on the web.


Last edited by Zelox on 7 August 2020 at 1:03 pm UTC
dubigrasu 7 Aug
Talking about Stadia's Borderlands 3 though...this is the first time ever on Stadia when I notice stutter, and even some half-second freezes. I didn't played much, maybe 20 min, but in any case it did that few times.
Like I said, first time that I see this, usually is butter smooth.
eldaking 7 Aug
Quoting: PatolaFrom the linked Ethan Lee blog post:

QuoteObviously I can't share any of its contents, but between the API itself and the dev environment it actually makes me really sad that Stadia is a streaming platform and not a local hardware platform, as I would much rather develop for Stadia than any console... it's a real shame that it's cloud-based, because it really is a technological feat in pretty much every other regard. I just really like having my hardware and software run locally a wee bit too much compared to the average person.
-- Ethan Lee

We gain a lot of Freedom with Stadia because of the titles we could not play otherwise, like Destiny 2. We also gain freedom from expensive hardware configurations. Is it worth the loss of Freedom of how we play these titles? Not saying it isn't, just a philosophical question. Maybe a rhetorical one, that does not even need to be answered.

No way in hell it is worth it. Not that it isn't worth it on an individual cost-benefit analysis (i.e., it is probably advantageous for many people to use it), because Google is pouring a lot of money into subsidizing it and creating those immediate advantages, but the net effect on society is negative (i.e., long term it screws up the market and the community and the industry).

We are talking about companies that really want to have always-online DRM and to track everything you do in your computer. We are talking about companies that gloat about how the threat model for their consoles includes "users install their own software on the device". We are talking about companies that remotely delete e-books from people's devices. Taking control away from the software we run is something big companies actively pursue, for explicitly malicious purposes, and is absolutely a big selling point of Stadia for publishers and for Google itself.

Google and its "partners" could pour a lot of money into cross-platform compatibility. Into either making hardware cheaper or making games lighter. But the profit isn't there; the profit lies in gaining control: so that they can force people to keep buying the same thing multiple times, so that they can jack up the prices and people can't rely on old copies, so that they can remove inconvenient competitors because they control the walled garden, even just so that they can really kill their old games to force people to buy the more expensive new ones.
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