Has Google Stadia just become a Ubisoft console?

The Google Stadia hasn’t exactly set the world aflame, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a glowing ember of potential that just needs some decent kindling. If you’re building a bonfire of content, you can’t go far wrong with Ubisoft’s catalogue of open world games, and with the arrival of The Division 2 and The Crew 2, the French publisher may just have quietly turned Stadia into their own streaming service.

Stadia isn’t intended to really replace an Xbox One or a PS4. It’s just not. What Google has put out there; a tiny dongle, a controller, and no physical media, is so far removed from what people expect of a console experience that it’s going to take a seismic shift to get them onboard. For one thing, a dedicated gamer isn’t going to find the breadth of content they want, or then be willing to throw themselves on the mercy of the internet gods whenever they want to play – especially now as streaming services are throttling their content throughout Europe, but that’s a discussion for another time. That’s understandable.

Ubisoft, as they so often do, have seen potential where others don’t. Just as they were a defining contributor to Nintendo’s proto-Switch the Wii U, so too are they heaping their wares onto the Stadia, and arguably, there’s no better companion out there.

If you’re only going to play one or two games a year, then Stadia and its excellent streaming tech fit the bill perfectly. Maybe you live in a smart, minimalist home where a Chromecast Ultra is easily tucked away behind the TV, but where a PS4 is not? Whatever the reason, Ubisoft’s titles will merrily fill every one of those gaming moments with things to do, and in fantastic style. If you own a Stadia, you should be playing the Ubisoft games it offers, it’s that simple.

Take Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It’s easily one of the best open world games of all time, the story of Alexios and Kassandra immense in every sense of the word. Having had Stadia since its launch, this is the game that I’ve spent the most time with and I can’t actually imagine tiring of it; it’s that good. It’s also that big, with well over a hundred hours of content.

The AC series has surpassed the boundaries of gaming – even if the film only bears a passing resemblance to it – putting it in the same position as the FIFA’s and Call of Duty’s of this world. If you’re going to play one thing, it could very easily be this monster of a game.

But maybe ancient Greece isn’t your thing? As of this week Ubisoft have made sure to cover all of your Stadia gaming bases with shooting things in The Division 2, and racing things in The Crew 2, and they’re as good here as they are elsewhere, less the hassle of downloading and updating. If you want to play when you have time to play, Stadia is the platform for you.

The Crew 2 features a ridiculous, open-world version of the United States, populated by other players, and the whole thing works flawlessly on Stadia. Any trepidation about a racing game on a streaming platform can be put to bed, as both this, and Codemasters’ GRID, just work perfectly.

Similarly, The Division 2 and it’s slightly less well-received cousin Ghost Recon Breakpoint both run without any hitches. They run with such accuracy to a point where I can forget they’re being streamed to my TV. The Division 2 in particular looks nicer on Stadia than it does on PlayStation Pro, and you’ll begin to wonder how relevant all the hoo-ha was about the world not being ready for streaming.

Now, you can actually play all of these games on another streaming service, GeForce Now, simply connecting up your uPlay account, buying PC games through Ubisoft’s storefront and playing them from Nvidia’s servers instead of Google’s. However, that would be to overlook the unique elements of Stadia. The Division 2, The Crew 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint also feature Stream Connect, one of the systems biggest selling points for their multiplayer titles. With multiple miniature windows open you can see in real time what each of your teammates are doing, giving you an incredible ability to operate as a cohesive unit.

None of the home consoles are currently capable of this, none of the talk of the next generation even makes mention of this, and it’s a real advantage, particularly in The Division 2 and Ghost Recon. Its addition makes the Stadia versions of these fundamentally cooperative titles the best version of each of those games. Just think about that.

In effect, Ubisoft have adopted a console they could call their own, without ever having to mould one piece of plastic. Sure, you can play these games elsewhere, but ideologically the Stadia was made for Ubisoft, and vice versa. The huge, open-world experiences that they specialise in are ideal for players who only want to play a couple of titles a year, so if you’ve got a decent internet connection, why would you have a box sat under the telly just for that?

Now we just need a name. Goobisoft? Nah…. Ubadia? No…. U-Googly? Sure, that’ll do.

Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.