A few weeks ago Google let loose an interesting promo for its Stadia game streaming program. Pre-order the highly-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 from the store, and you’d get a Stadia Premiere package (a $100 value with a Wi-Fi controller, Chromecast Ultra, and a month of Stadia Pro) for free. It was a compelling combo of game and hardware.
A bit too compelling, it turns out: a verified account from a Google representative said that the promotion is now closed, despite the initial plan being for it to run through Friday December 18th, a week after the game’s launch. Stadia users who pre-ordered or purchased before December 13th (yesterday) at 4 PM Pacific time will get their free Stadia controller and Chromecast Ultra, but those buying the game afterwards are out of luck. Canadian players were already outside of the promotional period on December 10th.
The representative said that this due to an “overwhelmingly positive reception,” and it’s easy to see why. Cyberpunk 2077 is probably the biggest AAA release of the year, and it’s also incredibly complex in terms of visuals and backend. The game’s out on every platform except mobile and Switch, but it’s struggling on older hardware: low-power PCs, the PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Even mid-range gaming PCs are having to turn the visual settings way, way down in order to get stable framerates. All platforms are seeing weird bugs on the early release, but that’s to be expected from complex open-world games. The publisher has gone so far as to issue refunds for Cyberpunk 2077 purchases on older consoles, a rare concession.
By contrast, Stadia (and its streaming competitor GeForce NOW) seem to be excellent ways to run the game, if you can meet the streaming connection requirements. Relying on Google’s souped-up remote computers smooths out a lot of the visual hiccups without any need for local gaming hardware or big downloads, all the way up to 4K resolution for Pro users. I’ve been playing for almost a week on Stadia, and aside from one crash, I haven’t seen any of the problems that have been reported on older consoles.
Cyberpunk 2077 appears to be a real coming out party for game streaming, and pairing that pre-order with Stadia hardware was a smart move on Google’s part. They might find a few potential customers miffed at losing out on a free controller and Chromecast, but even so, it’s the boon that the platform needed after an underwhelming introductory year.