Google this week revealed it was unbinding Stadia from WiFi, meaning you can finally play your games on mobile devices via 4G or 5G cellular networks. It’s an upgrade Stadia’s been missing for a while, and could make the service more palatable to potential users — which Stadia could certainly use help recruiting.
The option is currently available to users, though you have to opt into an “experiment,” meaning essentially a beta test. Once you do, you can play on one of the approved Android phones on which the Stadia app is available. Google also warns in the notification that data usage may increase up to 2.7 GB an hour (via 9to5Google).
This is one of many features Stadia has been hurting for since its launch — better late than never. It might help the service’s appeal to gamers, and Stadia’s going to need as many good features as it can to boost Stadia’s player count.
In a recent tweet, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney threw a little bit of shade Stadia’s way when he said it’s too hard to keep the game updated across so many platforms and “makes it hard to add platforms that don’t yet have mass market user bases.” So yeah — not enough people are using Stadia to justify porting Fortnite.
There’s not a deep reason. We fully support Stadia in Unreal Engine however the effort required to release Fortnite updates weekly in sync across 7+ platform is extreme and that makes it hard to add platforms that don’t yet have mass market user bases.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 28, 2020
He’s not the only one — Verge scribe Tom Warren said earlier this year that Stadia was a rather empty playground, particularly if you’re playing it’s selection of multiplayer games. Though he said there are signs this is changing, he said, “I feel like I’m paying to be a beta tester for Google’s service.” I’ve only ever played single-player titles on Stadia (Gylt‘s not bad), but I can certainly see his point.
I’m not going to make any nasty comments about Stadia’s audience size — not today, anyway. But I’m wondering if the ability to play on mobile without having to be tied to a WiFi network will help Stadia’s case at all. It’s great source of appeal is the ability to play your games anywhere, unbound as it were, and now it’s finally delivering on that promise. This update can only add to Stadia’s stock as a service, so it’s a positive sign.