Google Stadia is set to launch in November, and as we near the date, a clearer picture emerges of what it will entail. Pricing, in particular, is important to many gamers, who have to balance cost against Stadia's advantages - and disadvantages.
We know that there will be $9.99 subscription service that comes with some free games and discounts on others, but what if you have the free 'base' Stadia, which, I'll remind you, is limited to to 1080p 30 fps resolution and stereo audio. Well, you will still have to buy the games you want to use, and at full price, the same as if you bought it for your console. But on Stadia, you can't download the game or play it offline, so you're at the mercy of your Internet connection and Google's support for the game. But Google thinks that the advantages of Stadia justify the price.
"I don’t know why it would be cheaper," Stadia chief Phil Harrison told Eurogamer. "The value you get from the game on Stadia means you can play it on any screen in your life - TV, PC, laptop, tablet, phone," he said. "I think that is going to be valuable to players."
In short, Stadia's flexibility when it comes to streaming on any device is well worth the disadvantage. Certainly from Google's perspective, but it raises some awkward questions. For example, if you pay for game in full, and then Google pulls it from their library (as has happened with several titles on the Google Play Store), what happens then? Nonetheless, for many, the elimination of hardware costs will be a convincing trade-off.
Of course, game developers and publishers wouldn't necessarily want their games to be cheaper on Stadia either, lest it cut into more lucrative sales on other platforms. Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass also offers a hybrid subcription/purchase system, with individual games being available at full prices too. But as game streaming becomes more common, I expect growing pains when it comes to issues of ownership and availability to goods as ephemeral as access to a stream.
What do you think of Google Stadia? Does it seem worth it?