With one single library update, Microsoft just ripped Google Stadia of one of its only reasons to exist. Today, without any fanfare or warning, Microsoft included Destiny 2 to its Project xCloud game streaming library, at no extra cost, complete with synchronicity for those of us who have been playing on Xbox or using save syncing.
Here are the games Microsoft added just today, alongside the rest of the full library.
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection
- Destiny 2
- Sid Meier's Civilization VI
- Batman: The Enemy Within – The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
- Batman: The Telltale Series – The Complete Season (Episodes 1-5)
- The Wolf Among Us
- Wasteland 2: Directors Cut
- The Surge
- Portal Knights
- GoNNER - BLÜEBERRY Edition
- Kingdom Two Crowns
- Tracks – The Train Set Game
- Train Sim World 2019
Destiny 2 remains an incredibly popular game, and is practically the only service-type game with perpetual updates that might, might have justified keeping Google Stadia around. But now, why bother? On Project XCloud, not only do you get to play online, on the go, wherever you are on any Android device, but you also get to seamlessly sync your save file to an offline local version of the game, running on your Xbox console devices (whether it's the S, X, or Series X later this year). All of this, while ignoring the vast amount of superior games Project xCloud already offers despite being in preview.
Therein lies the only kicker, really. Google Stadia is actually released, a product you can buy in stores. Although, you could argue that it's effectively just a paid-for-preview, since the library sucks and it's missing tons of basic features, having only recently got some of its previously-advertised functionality like achievement support. Project xCloud is still limited only to the U.S. and UK, and even then, you need to be lucky enough to grab a spot in its preview program.
Microsoft seems to be taking a soft approach to the rollout of xCloud, having only just expanded its home console streaming function to more markets. Google Stadia has far wider availability, despite all of its downsides.
Microsoft just ripped Google Stadia of one of its only reasons to exist.
Still, despite the availability, Xbox's obvious advantages are beginning to mount up against Google: The superior relationships with developers, the promise of offline versions through home consoles and Windows PC, all with seamless syncing across all of your devices. Microsoft also just announced that xCloud is already seeing positive results in Eastern markets, with South Korean gamers spending almost double the amount of hours streaming games than westerners.
Google isn't down for the count yet, though. The firm announced it will be adding more than a hundred games throughout 2020, complete with timed-exclusives. Google has piles of cash to spend on competing in this nascent market, whether it's purchasing third-party exclusivity deals a la Epic Games, or simply buying up studios in their entirety.
One thing is for certain though, Microsoft's established presence in the industry is going to help it a ton when it comes to this new market, when you envisage a world where the technology powering these experiences is practically equal. Google is going to quite seriously have its work cut out if it wants to stand even the vaguest chance of Stadia being anything more than another product on Google's scrapheap.