Eager to try Google Stadia out for yourself in your living room before you commit to a purchase later this year? Sadly, you won't be able to. Phil Harrison, Google's vice president and head of Stadia, confirmed as much in an interview with GamesRadar earlier today. That's right, there's no Google Stadia beta en route.
Of course, this is incredibly pertinent given that the Google Stadia experience could – in theory, at least – differ wildly from player to player, depending on a variety of external factors outside of Google's control, from your broadband speed to the way your ISP handles high-bandwidth traffic during peak times. Some prospective users had the ability to try out Stadia for themselves last year, albeit unwittingly; Project Stream let players launch Assassin's Creed Odyssey right from their browser window, accessing the new AAA experience on a high-end performance and graphical configuration regardless of the machine that you had in front of you.
In many ways, it's the perfect test of Google Stadia. It's a showcase that it can work for players in live environments. Of course, given that it could be accessed by so few players – and in only one territory – there are still questions on whether Stadia will actually work. "It was unfortunate that we only ran the Project Stream test in the US, and even then it was only a relatively small subset of players, but you've all experienced it for yourselves and you know it works," Harrison tells me.
Of course, this is something that Google will struggle to answer definitively without giving players the opportunity to try it for themselves. We've been impressed by everything we've seen and played of Stadia so far in professional capacities, but we are also still yet to see how it performs with our home internet and router. So we put it to Harrison, as Project Stream wasn't available in the majority of the territories that you are launching in this year, have you not considered running a separate test ahead of release to ease these fears?
"Geographically, the US is the most complex place to test; just because of the size of the country. And actually, Europe – and particularly the UK – are much... relatively, they are relatively easier to launch. So we are not going to do another test in the UK or Europe. If we had time we probably would have done so, but we don't need to."
What are the roadblocks stopping that from happening? Was it a question of allocating space in the data servers or something else entirely? From what we can tell, it sounds like Google is now far too deep into launch prep to divert resources to such an endeavour. "Just in terms of the scheduling of building out our data centres. The US schedule was started first and came online first, and the UK/European one came online second. It was just a sequencing of geographies and there was no intention to the meaning of that."
We will have more from our Phil Harrison interview later this week. In the meantime, you may want to read our Google Stadia interview with Google's Director for Games, Jack Buser, as he attempts to detail why this isn't the start of the next-generation of gaming, it's something else entirely.
If you want to get some idea of whether or not your internet might be able to handle game streaming, it's worth noting that there is an official Google Stadia speed test which should give you some idea of what your connection will be capable of delivering.
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