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Some early first impressions of Google Stadia played on Linux

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Stadia has launched if you have the Founder Edition, our unit and code came a little late but it's here and surprisingly it all seems to be working well. Note: Our Founders Edition was a personal purchase.

This new game streaming service from Google is powered by Debian Linux and the Vulkan API, so I've been rather keen to see what it has to offer. Keep in mind you will need a good internet connection for it and you do always need to be online, although it's supposed to keep your place for 15 minutes to help with drop-outs and changing devices.

Quite a rough start, as they were clearly sending out codes slowly in batches. Something which wasn't explained properly. However, every Founder should now have access with them moving onto sending codes for those with the Premier Edition next week. I do hope Google learn to communicate better in future.

For now, Stadia is supported in these countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. As for games currently available, it's limited with only 22 available although more are supposed to be coming before the year is up. You can see a list in this previous Stadia article.

While Google state that you need Chrome to play Stadia, that's not quite true. Testing on Manjaro Linux, I've got it running with Destiny 2 working fine in Chrome, Chromium, Brave and Opera.


Pictured: Stadia with Chromium on Linux


Pictured: Stadia with Brave on Linux

However, for Opera, the Content Security Policy doesn't even let you click the Sign In link. I used a plugin to turn it off for testing (not recommended), which allowed me to get further but then Stadia tells you to install Chrome. However, in this case using a User Agent Switcher did then allow Opera to work!


Pictured: Stadia with Opera on Linux

I also tried it in Firefox with a User Agent Switcher, where I was able to at least get the store to load and interact with the very basic UI but games wouldn't load. No amount of tinkering and disabling things seemed to help for Firefox.

My main testing has been done on my desktop, attached directly to the router with a cable. With a Virgin Media internet connection that gives around 360Mbps down and about 36Mbps up (Speedtest - while in use it varies of course). You can see a video of it in action below:

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Also slightly amusing that as I spawned into the game, there was someone I knew standing there (hi Marc).

So far, other people using the net to stream video and play online games all while I've been testing hasn't phased it. I had a single disconnection, which in the space of about 10 seconds sorted itself out. I've always been a huge streaming sceptic...but not so much right now.

What I'm perhaps just as impressed by is performance over wireless. Testing using a rubbish Kubuntu laptop, across the house and down a level right at the back. Wireless speed there gave me about 50Mbps down, so putting Stadia into the "Limited" mode for 720p, even there the experience was also very good. I was fully expecting there to have a ton of input lag, but it felt about the same as my PC hooked directly to the router. All while someone else was streaming video and playing an online game elsewhere in the house. You can see a poor quality quick video test of that here.

Onto the Stadia Controller, priced around £59 by itself it's not the cheapest. However, the build quality seems good and it does feel very nice. Far nicer than the Steam Controller or the Logitech F310. Perfect fit too, with a really nice finish. Smooth on the front, a little rough on the back for some grip. The Stadia Controller also has a dedicated button for the Google Assistant, although that's not actually online right now. You don't need it though! Mouse and Keyboard work great, the Steam Controller also works when paired with SC Controller, and the Logitech F310 was also plug and play. Simply no need to pay out for it.

I think it's important to understand what Google have achieved already with Stadia is quite significant. Load up a browser and play a AAA game on Linux, macOS and Windows with only a tiny amount of loading and no sitting and waiting for 50GB of updates. Compared to a lot of experiences with new games on Steam, it almost feels a little magic.

However, at least speaking for me personally, I don't think this will be replacing a locally installed game any time soon. While the input lag was somewhat minimal, playable and quite fun it was just enough to show me that it's not something I'm going to be spending lots of money on extra games. Barely though, I have been seriously impressed with it. If they manage to bring it down a little more, it would be ridiculously good.

The service offered currently is also incredibly basic. Most things outside of playing a game require the Stadia mobile application, as the in-browser UI is laughably bare-bones. Not only that, but they're going to need something big to really hook anyone in and keep them. There's no "killer app" for Stadia right now and their one exclusive game with Gylt isn't going to be turning any heads.

Stadia Pro also doesn't feel at all worth it. 4K that has already been shown elsewhere to not actually be fully 4K in some games, as it's down to the developer and only supported on the Chromecast Ultra, plus HDR and Surround Sound which aren't yet supported on PC as well. The amount of games you get with Stadia Pro is also going to be ridiculously limited when other services will be practically doing the "Netflix of games" style. Google will definitely need to give Stadia Pro a big boost.

From a standard user perspective, it does work fine on Linux. Shockingly well too for the most part. I fully expected there to be all sorts of issues and it's fun to see the normal Linux desktop sit alongside Windows and macOS as a supported gaming system for something so big. That's my main takeaway from the testing done.

Thinking specifically about Linux gamers for a moment there's multiple people who could enjoy this. There's likely going to be plenty of AAA games on Stadia, that will never be ported to the Linux desktop and also never work in Steam Play Proton. This includes those with extra layers of DRM, especially true right now for multiplayer titles with various different forms of anti-cheat. Stadia certainly could end up plugging a big gap for Linux gamers there.

That's only from a player perspective though, there's a ton of other issues that come with it I've mentioned in other articles. Games as a hosted service, with no ownership that can be taken away at any time is a genuine concern worth thinking on. As a pretty stark reminder of that, Destiny 2 went entirely offline today for multiple hours (all platforms). Not the fault of Stadia, sure, but it's making a point about relying on things in the cloud. Google sucking up even more data on you I'm sure plenty of people will be concerned about. Like the Stadia Controller with the built-in microphone to speak to Google—somewhat creepy or handy? You never do truly know if it's listening or not. That said, if you're like me and you have your Android/smart phone always by your side it's the same issue there so perhaps not quite as big a deal to certain people.

Bandwidth use is also a going to be a problem for plenty of people. Testing Stadia on the "Balanced" setting, which is supposed to give 1080p with an hour playtime using vnstat as the monitor it sucked away almost exactly 10GB. Let's say you play only 3 hours a day across a week, that's over 200GB. While I don't have a data cap, I've looked around and plenty really do and Stadia can easily blow through it.

Google also need to, rather badly, work on their communication and constant overselling of the service. It wasn't ready, clearly and still isn't in a lot of ways. They announced lots of shiny things, that just aren't there right now. We're talking Wireless controller on PC, 4K on PC, Google Assistant, State Share, Stream Connect, YouTube integration, Family Sharing, an almost nonexistent PC interface and even the Buddy Pass system isn't yet live. Stadia launched with the bare minimum to be called a service.

If Stadia does succeed, gaming will be massively different to what we see today. I can't even begin to imagine how indie games would adapt and you can bet more publishers would opt for their own subscription services to help counter it. They do have a lot of competition coming as well, even Amazon are said to be launching their own game streaming service next year. What of the Steam Cloud Gaming rumours too? Too early to get fully invested into Stadia when it's so limited.

Keep an eye on our Twitch Channel, as our streamer will be taking a look tomorrow.

If you’re interested in Stadia and want to see more about it here, or you would like something very specific tested do let me know in the comments.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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82 comments
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Eike 23 November 2019 at 9:49 am UTC
ahjolinnasense when have a controller had any identity what so ever?

Well, I guess they conceive something with saying that, but it's not obvious to me what it is. So, as you seem to be interested in that topic: What is is Google is thinking of here?


Last edited by Eike on 23 November 2019 at 11:42 am UTC
TheSyldat 23 November 2019 at 9:58 am UTC
EikeWell, I guess they conceive something with saying that, but it's not obvious to me what it is. So, as you seem to be 9interested in that topic: What is is Google is thinking of here?
If you actually read the various articles about it, but more to the point go back to the marketing video about them designing the controller.

Although they are more than a tinsy bit up their own ass about "doing better than the competitors" , I mean different color finish for controllers has been a thing on both XBOX and Playstation and Nintendo since forever.

What was actually said was that the design team wanted to distance themselves from the aggressive and fairly aimed at dude bros "gamer aesthetic" that every piece of "gamer tech" is aiming for lately .

Also off note contrary to most controller design teams during the testing phases women have also been test audiences for their designs (the XBOX controllers for example still have button placements and overall size unfit for a lot of lady hands making it playing long sessions on them painful for a lot of women )

It's just that the dude who's picking the titles for the article felt like "being funny" by emphasizing the use of the words gender neutral by the lady who talked about designing the controller.

That being said their design is nice and all, except we can't crack those babies open to clean them, like I pointed out in my first comment here personally.

TL : DR Gender Neutral as in "For once we ALSO tested our designs with ladies who have tiny short fingers like a lot of women do to make sure the controller is ALSO comfy for them"

But I guess that designing ALSO for women to make sure it's ALSO comfy for them is "identity politics bs" ...


Last edited by TheSyldat on 23 November 2019 at 10:49 am UTC
Leopard 23 November 2019 at 11:37 am UTC
axredneck
michaldybczakHow did they make Destiny 2 run if protondb shows it as borked? Everyone says that Stadia is on Linux but it looks like there are only Linux servers. The game is somehow streamed from Windows or am I missing something?
If it's borked due to DRM or anticheats then it's not a problem for Stadia+Wine.

Stadia is a different Linux based platform which anti cheats or drm's are not necessary.

User can't modify/manipulate anything because user only interacts with a video stream. Not the game itself at all.

No , Stadia is not using Wine. There is no reason for it.
barotto 23 November 2019 at 11:38 am UTC
Well, with my 5Mbps LTE data-capped connection I don't think I'll spend my time on this service any time soon... nor with the most recent AAA multi GB titles for that matter.
rustybroomhandle 23 November 2019 at 1:48 pm UTC
michaldybczakHow did they make Destiny 2 run if protondb shows it as borked? Everyone says that Stadia is on Linux but it looks like there are only Linux servers. The game is somehow streamed from Windows or am I missing something?

The game is running as a native Linux build on the Stadia server, not via Proton.
namiko 23 November 2019 at 2:20 pm UTC
TheSyldatTL : DR Gender Neutral as in "For once we ALSO tested our designs with ladies who have tiny short fingers like a lot of women do to make sure the controller is ALSO comfy for them"
Saying something is for women isn't always necessarily complimenting or supporting women. Supporting women also isn't downgrading (subjectively) male things to second-best. Not sure if that article does either of those things, but that's my two nickels (pennies don't exist in Canada aside from digital form anymore).

I also have stubby fingers, small hands, and the Steam Controller works fine with me, RSI wrist/finger strain from long periods of gaming aside. Maybe I have big palms?

Back on topic, if Stadia's "free" games are always subject to change, it's hard to say what kind of "ownership" is available on the platform. At least Valve lets you keep games that even leave the storefront completely, with very few exceptions. I don't trust Google to do anything but to squeeze information from people with its services, whether they like it or not.

Also dislike that Stadia is Debian-based, hopefully Google will focus on developing it on their own and not push Debian developers into force-fitting their distro to Google's needs. Android used to be a kind of Linux, but now it's nothing but a proprietary Linux-based OS.
Purple Library Guy 23 November 2019 at 5:02 pm UTC
ahjolinnado I need to say anything else?
Did you need to say that either? Like, really, I think the conversation could have gone along just fine without sticking that in it.
warrengbrn 23 November 2019 at 8:40 pm UTC
Liam, any notes on the image quality? I'm surprised the impressions on Stadia have been so varied from person to person. Some say its amazing and others say its laggy and blurry, which is are issues I've had with both Steam Remote Play in home and miles away from my house.

I tried out Bloodborne on PSNow but quit my playthrough after several hours. The input lag wasn't terrible but it wasn't great and the picture quality would become extremely blocky whenever turning the camera fast or looking at dark colors.
TheSyldat 23 November 2019 at 9:58 pm UTC
namikoI also have stubby fingers, small hands, and the Steam Controller works fine with me, RSI wrist/finger strain from long periods of gaming aside. Maybe I have big palms?
I'm intersex and my hands are very much drinking all of the feminine stuff and have short fingers small palms.
While the steam controller is a godsend because its design is thoughtful, having to use an XBOX One controller on the other hand is always a pain in the ass for me because its design is legitimately downright painful for my hands.

The steam controller only LOOKS girthy but when you take the time to assess button placement and spacing and overall shape of it all no actually the steam controller is one of if not the best designed controllers in the world, so using it as a your point of comparison isn't exactly the best of all ideas .

namikoSupporting women also isn't downgrading (subjectively) male things to second-best.
As for this one here I'm not even gonna comment on it and just quote you so that you read yourself back if don't see what's wrong in that sentence I don't know what to tell you other than "welcome to the mute list"


Last edited by TheSyldat on 23 November 2019 at 10:05 pm UTC
Salvatos 23 November 2019 at 10:27 pm UTC
TheSyldatThe steam controller only LOOKS girthy but when you take the time to assess button placement and spacing and overall shape of it all no actually the steam controller is one of if not the best designed controllers in the world, so using it as a your point of comparison isn't exactly the best of all ideas .
Ironically, you say that like it’s universally better for everyone, as if we all had the same hands and experience with it. To me it was awkward to hold and the texture (especially the touch pad) chafed my skin to the point that I was eager to get rid of it.
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