Without Doom Eternal, does Google Stadia have a killer app?

Even though it will result in a better game, it’s always a little disappointing when a potential Game of the Year candidate slips into from a holiday release into the following spring. Alas, we’ll no longer be revisiting Hell in 2019, as Doom Eternal needs a bit more time in the oven to reach the hellfire temperature it deserves. While we can at least take solace in an improved rendition of id’s shooter next year, at least one organization doesn’t have that luxury. Lest we forget, Google Stadia launches as a streaming platform this November, with Doom previously set as the impressive showpiece for launch. Without this huge shooter, it looks as though Stadia is going to have a rough launch than usual.

Stadia Killer Apps | It is my Destiny (2)!

Destiny 2 is the first giveaway in Stadia Pro, a proposition that looked a lot better when first revealed back around E3. Back then, Destiny 2 was a premium product with Activision’s backing, but that quickly changed. Now, as a free-to-play release, Stadia Plus subscribers only get the DLC expansions, including the recent Shadowkeep. With some lingering teething problems as Bungie adjusts to providing a live game all on its own, it’s unclear how or if streaming Destiny 2 would be any more stable than playing for free on Steam.

ALSO: What Call of Duty can learn from games like Doom

At least Destiny 2 will be able to show off Stadia’s tech to curious consumers. Since the base game is free, it will be the perfect test bed for skeptical gamers to try the tech in their own homes. Many of those players probably have experience with Destiny in one form or another, so they’ll be able to compare between the download experience and the streaming one. Even so, it’s hard to see many will be going out and buying the Chromecast package just to get their hands on Bungie’s shooter, so it can’t quite qualify as what we’re looking for.

Stadia Killer Apps | Exclusive indies

Typically, a killer app has to be something you can’t get anywhere else, but Stadia’s exclusive lineup isn’t full of heavy hitters. Coatsink’s Get Packed is a moving themed take on Overcooked, which could show off the service’s multiplayer capabilities at the very least. However, it’s competing with Team17’s Moving Out, a similar game coming to all platforms next year. Tequila Works is offering Gylt right at launch, a horror game that wants to be accessible to Stadia’s potentially huge audience. It certainly fits in with the team’s past work on Rime and The Sexy Brutale, but that could mean that it achieves the same cult-level success.

Out of the three exclusive titles announced this year, Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die 3! has the strongest chance to make players take notice. The first two games in this tower defense series were ahead of their time, showcasing the same playful cartoonish style that’s so popular with the newest generation of gamers. After mucking around in a free-to-play service game for several years, the developer’s return to the original formula with upgrades to everything could really impress players.

On the other hand, even if Robot hits it out of the park, Orcs Must Die! is starting from square one with anyone who wasn’t using Steam seven or eight years ago. Will a tower defense game capture the imagination in 2019? Did Orcs Must Die! succeed back in the day because it was one of the better indie games on a much more curated PC platform? While all three titles seem like fun diversions, the entire Stadia-first lineup doesn’t seem strong enough to sell hardware on its own.

Stadia Killer Apps | AAA Redemption

So, if you’re not getting Stadia for exclusives and you’re not itching to play Destiny, the next reason you’d want to check out Google’s new platform is big AAA games. Stadia does have plenty of those, although it doesn’t help that 2019 hasn’t been a particularly stellar year in terms of big releases. Titles like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Rage 2 looked way better before releasing to tepid reviews. Other games like Mortal Kombat 1, and Borderlands 3 will sell units anywhere they go, but most fans probably already bought them on their platform of choice. Google seems to be banking on an audience that wants hardcore games but never bought into an existing ecosystem. It’s a pitch that didn’t quite work out for the Vita last decade, so it’s unclear how well it works today.

However, if it is going to work, games need to take advantage of Stadia’s unique features of a platform. As usual, Ubisoft invests early and often in new tech, showing off a unique squad-camera feature during Stadia streams of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The only problem is that Breakpoint seemingly came and went with little fanfare weeks before Stadia’s launch. Ubisoft has turned games around before, and it’s possible that its latest tactical shooter could find new life on the platform, but it’s more likely that future features will be the ones to make a splash.

Only one other candidate sticks out in the launch liuneup, and it’s the one that could actually fill in for Doom. In addition to its pending launch on PC, Red Dead Redemption 2 is heading to Stadia. Although it won’t be possible right on day one, the prospect of taking Rockstar’s cowboy epic on the go via your phone or tablet will surely draw plenty of attention from a wide audience. The only roadblock will be how the game handles text and UI on a much smaller screen. As we’ve seen with recent Switch ports, some developers just leave things as is, making for a less than desirable experience. A phone screen is only going to exacerbate such an issue.

Stadia Killer Apps | For the corporation who has everything

While Red Dead might be able to fill some of the gaps left by Doom‘s delay, it’s still not a slam dunk. It’s not a new release, and it’s a long enough game that people may not want to double dip. Or, if they do want to play again, they’ll want to get the version that will support mods years down the line. No matter how you shake it, anyone who preordered the Stadia bundle is looking at a slow start to the platform’s life. Unless Google is holding back some heavy hitters we don’t know about, it’ll have to work hard to build momentum in the time they have before Microsoft and Sony start showing off what they’ve been working on for the next generation.