Google Stadia: Pricing, games and release period announced

Home » Google Stadia: Pricing, games and release period announced

Today Google presented the first Stadia Connect – the latest in a growing line of Nintendo Direct copycats – to dish out the first real consumer-focused details on their upcoming cloud streaming service. The headline reveals are that the service will launch in November in 14 countries – including the US and the UK. The minimum technical requirement to use Stadia is effectively having access to a screen that can run Chrome and you do not require a subscription to use the service.

That isn’t to say that playing games on Stadia will be free, however. Rather than being a “Netflix for games” as has often been expected, you will still need to buy games on Stadia’s platform in order to play them. The exact price of these games hasn’t been announced, but it seems likely that they will align with their prices on other digital storefronts.

A subscription option does still exist for Stadia, but its primary benefit is giving you access to the full beans of Stadia’s power – if you’ve got the bandwidth to handle it. Those without a ‘Pro’ subscription – or ‘Base’ users, will max out at 1080p/60fps with stereo sound. A Pro subscription – for £8.99 a month – nets you up to a 4K/60fps resolution with 5.1 surround sound. Of course, you’ll also need about a 35Mbps download speed at least to manage that.

For your £9 a month, though, the Pro subscription will come with a Game Pass style library of ‘free’ content. However, at launch that library seems to exclusively consist of a full version of Destiny 2 – with all the expansion bells and whistles. That might change by November, and Google certainly promises more to come beyond then anyway, but it’s a far cry from both the value of Game Pass itself and the original expectations of a gaming equivalent of Netflix/Spotify.

Stadia’s biggest advantage, though, comes from the pure convenience of it. Designed to be entirely web-based, you can play Stadia games in any Chrome browser on any desktop, laptop, tablet or through a Chromecast Ultra. Oddly, though, Chrome on mobile phones seems to have been shut out of the party. Only the latest Google Pixel and Pixel 3a with a dedicated Stadia app will have access at launch – though “more screens and mobile devices” are promised to follow. It’s unclear why Stadia is so locked down on mobile, so we followed Google’s own advice and asked them via the @GoogleStadia twitter account. Somehow we don’t think we’ll get an answer… but we’ll update this article if we ever do.

The games

One thing entirely absent from the original GDC presentation for Google Stadia were any games – beyond Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the game used for a public test of the platform back in October 2018. That was somewhat rectified in this presentation, particularly with the very exciting announcement of the long awaited Baldur’s Gate 3, developed by Divinity: Original Sin’s Larian Studios.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is not a Stadia exclusive – in fact, only one game announced throughout the presentation is – but Stadia will undoubtedly be the most convenient way to play the game. The full list of announced games are:

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Baldur’s Gate 3
  • Borderlands 3
  • The Crew 2
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Destiny 2
  • The Division 2
  • DOOM Eternal
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Farming Simulator 19
  • Final Fantasy 15
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Get Packed

  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Grid
  • Gylt (Stadia exclusive)
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • NBA 2K
  • Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
  • Rage 2
  • Samurai Showdown
  • Thumper
  • Tomb Raider Trilogy
  • Trials Rising
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Gylt, the first game exclusive to the Google Stadia platform is a single player puzzle game starring a young girl called Sally, navigating a creepy school in search of her missing cousin, Emily. Developed by Tequila Works – best known for 2017’s The Sexy Brutale – this game has a similar visual and somewhat haunting charm. It perhaps isn’t a killer app must-have exclusive title, but it is actually a very promising start for games that you can only play on Stadia.

To get in on the action with Stadia in November, it seems that initial access will only be to those who buy the £119 Founder’s Edition kit from Google themselves. That version comes with an exclusive ‘Night Blue’ controller, a Chromecast Ultra and three months of a Pro subscription. You’ll also receive a code for another three-month Pro subscription that you can share with a friend to give them immediate access. The controller and the Chromecast are not required to use Stadia – any supported Bluetooth controller can be used – but additional Stadia Controllers can also be pre-ordered for £59 each. The non-subscription version of Stadia, ‘Stadia Base’ claims to be coming in 2020, indicating that access during November/December after launch this year – and into some as-yet unknown part of next year – will only be for those with Pro subscriptions via the Founder’s Edition and its ‘Buddy Pass’.

There are still many questions hanging over Google’s nascent gaming platform. The price of the games themselves being a particularly big one, not to mention how reliable the streaming service truly is when out in the wild. Asking players to start investing in a new digital Walled Garden for content that can only be played through a service that demands the best from an Internet infrastructure that perhaps isn’t yet there to meet it is a big ask, though. The apparent lack of value for a Pro subscription really could begin to stand out very quickly in the face of imminent reveals about Microsoft’s rival XCloud service. If Stadia achieves all it says it can and more, it’ll still be an extremely exciting launch this November – but perhaps the slow roll-out to only those prepared to pony up £120 up-front is indication of Google’s own concerns that we’re still not quite there yet.

Written by
Alex Winton

Alex is the founding editor of GameCrash, as well as the founder and owner of one of the UK's most popular and most creative Pokémon fansites, Pokecharms.com.

When not playing or writing about video games he works full time as a Senior Digital Developer making websites not unlike this very one!

Alex's favourite game franchises are Pokémon and Sonic the Hedgehog.

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