I've issues - quite significant ones - with what Stadia offers at the current time. The selection of games doesn't exactly 'wow', they're overpriced, and it all feels very bare bones. However, the technology - the thing which so many people told me, back in the summer when I first wrote about Stadia, wasn't going to work - does work. It works great. For me, at least.
Now... it's important to stress that it might be that Stadia doesn't work great for everyone. Certainly, I know that Digi2000 contributor SuperBadAdvice hasn't exactly had a seamless experience with it. However, my first impressions continued to be backed up by my personal experience over the weekend, to a point where I forgot I was streaming the games.
Honestly, I had a sudden moment of realisation while playing Rage 2 (thus far, an underrated game that I can't believe I put off playing for so long) where I remembered, and was stunned. I'd been playing for hours with no noticeable lag, no stuttering, and graphics that, if they aren't 4k (the naysayers insist that Stadia upscales its visuals), as close to 4k as to be irrelevant.
We can get into the whole not-actually-owning-your-games debate another time. I just want to talk about why so many people are still insisting that Stadia doesn't work, in the face of evidence to the contrary. Why are they trying so hard to convince themselves, without any first-hand, experience, that their belief is right?
Let's take a look at that.
I've seen comparison shots of Stadia games next to PC and Xbox/PS4 versions, and they always seem to paint Stadia in the worst light. Speaking again only for myself, Red Dead Redemption 2 on Stadia looks considerably better than it did on my PS4.
I saw a documentary a while back about Flat Earthers. It was enlightening, because it demonstrated what I believe about a lot of these niche groups; that there's a need among the individuals to belong to something, and to have a cause. Once they've bought into that, it becomes their identity.
It's why I have such issue with political extremism on all sides, and despair at inflexibility.
Rarely is it about a passionate belief based upon evidence and conviction. If evidence to the contrary manifests, people will contort it, and themselves, to make it fit with their view of the world. It's not looking at a bigger picture.
That's what seems to be going on with Stadia; all those people who are threatened by it - because it'll take away their physical games, or because a working version of Stadia will expose them as being wrong about it - are contorting the facts; that Stadia works for many people, and many people would prefer streaming over physical media (as I explained in my review).
It's called cognitive dissonance, and Wikipedia describes it thus:
"Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person's belief clashes with new evidence perceived by the person. When confronted with facts that contradict beliefs, ideals, and values, people will try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort."
In short: they'll twist the facts to suit them. Just as is happening with Stadia.
If somebody says their Stadia experience is working perfectly, they're met with others who'll accuse them of lying, being a corporate shill for Google, or being just plain wrong.
These people are seeking a confirmation bias - "the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that affirms one's prior beliefs or hypotheses" - by literally searching for positive comments about Stadia, and countering them, presumably in an effort to hold onto their own interpretation of reality.
Aside from the grief I got on Twitter, I even had to close comments on the Stadia review - one of the few times I've done so on this site - because somebody was pretending to be me in them, and swearily abusing other commenters. That's just immature lashing out, and kind of a bit tragic.
Cognitive bias is something that we all do. We're all leaning towards our existing beliefs, and having them challenged can be at best mildly uncomfortably, and at worst traumatic. We're all wired differently, so we all respond differently to having our beliefs challenged or threatened. Some of us are more open to those challenges - literally having an open mind - than others. Some see it as a sign of failure or weakness to be told they're wrong.
On the one hand, it's rarely a surprise when it happens.
What does surprise me, though, is that people are doing this over something like Stadia. I get when it's something as fundamental to a person's identity as a religious belief, but when it's just them being unable to admit they were wrong about whether or not some new technology works... it beggars belief.
Yet that's precisely what they are doing; either with abusive, attacking, language, or by insisting that people who speak positively about Stadia can't possibly have actually experienced it. For the first time in a while, I've seen the term "casual gamers" used in a sniffy, elitist, way. It's so tedious.
Why do they care about a consumer product with such zealous conviction, so lacking in self-awareness?
I think it's fine to have an opinion about Google Stadia. It's okay to not like Google's business practices. It's absolutely right to assess the launch, and to have issues with it (I certainly do).
What I do struggle with is denying the actual experiences of others. I have no stake in whether or not Google Stadia works. I've no loyalty to Google. I don't really care massively one way or another; I signed up to the thing purely to review it on Digi. I only wanted to honestly report my first-hand experience of it, and my experience was that the technology worked way better than expected.
Indeed, if they can build on this foundation, I can see a time when I would prefer to buy a new game on Stadia than on console, because I don't want all the faff of updates and installation.
Am I in a minority? I dunno, really. Searching for Stadia throws up two types of Tweets; people who haven't experienced it, yet have decided already that it doesn't work and are angry at anybody who suggests otherwise, and those who have used it, and for whom it's working great.
Who are then accused of lying, or being paid by Google to lie.
It's mental, and a bit sad to be honest, that something isn't being given a chance because of this cognitive dissonance, but as the number of positive reports about Stadia increase, so too do the numbers attempting to cling onto their belief to the contrary.
I actually find that sort of blinkered perception of reality a bit scary, regardless of what it's about. In such instances, you're never dealing with a rounded, grounded, person who can be reasoned with, in a rational way, but with a persona that's entirely built around one single, all-consuming, belief.
It's like dealing with a machine.