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Google Stadia games lineup will be pretty thin at launch

google stadia
(Image credit: Google)

Google Stadia is a very ambitious project, but as I’ve said before, it’s not one that’s guaranteed to succeed

The idea of streaming games instantaneously, wherever you go, without having to wait for cumbersome downloads and patches, is inherently attractive. But the proposition is only as attractive as the games you get to play. And if Stadia’s launch lineup is any indication, Google is banking on gamers really, really wanting to play excellent, recent, big-budget games — that they may have already played before.

Google revealed the Stadia launch lineup today in a blog post. When the service goes live on Nov. 19, gamers will have their choice of 12 games, 11 of which are re-releases, and only one of which is an exclusive title. Here’s a full list:

google stadia

(Image credit: Google)
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Destiny 2: The Collection
  • Gylt
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Kine
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider (2013)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

It’s an anemic selection, to put it mildly. True, most console launches have about the same number of games — but most console launches also try to field more exclusive titles, or at least titles that came out within the last few months.

Gylt is the only Stadia-exclusive game that will launch alongside the platform. This horror/adventure game looks solid, to be fair, and tells the tale of a girl who confronts her own surreal fears as she explores a cartoonish landscape. It’ll be a chance for Google to showcase the kind of talent it’s attracted for the Stadia experiment.

Otherwise, though, the games range in age from six years (Tomb Raider) to a few days (Just Dance), and they represent titles that gamers have already played — possibly for dozens of hours, in the case of massive open-world games like Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption. In terms of performance, these games will be very useful to evaluate how well Stadia works under pressure. But in terms of novelty, we’ve seen them before.

Then again, one of Stadia’s potential draws is for gamers who don’t want to buy a whole console simply to experience a handful of games, so perhaps the focus on recent favorites is purposeful. I don’t know many people who’d want to buy a second copy of Mortal Kombat or Kine simply to play it on a streaming connection, but for gamers who don’t own a system that can currently handle them, Stadia could be a good way to dip a toe in without committing fully.

In any case, a launch lineup doesn’t determine a system’s overall value; if it did, the PS2 never would have gotten off the ground, to say nothing of the Xbox 360 or the PS4. Google promises that it’ll release plenty more titles before 2019 is out, including Borderlands 3, Final Fantasy XV and Darksiders Genesis. Tom’s Guide will have a full Stadia review when the service goes live.