When Google announced they were leapfrogging E3 to reveal their Stadia game “console” on June 6, we figured “they must have news so big that it puts everything else to shame!” Given the size of the company and the resources at its fingertips, we were expecting a megaton bomb like “we bought Activision!” or “WE’RE coming out with Half Life 3!”
But maybe we were just projecting Microsoft’s behavior onto Google’s. The former likes to throw its weight and cash around to stay competitive, gobbling up studios and bragging obnoxiously. The latter doesn’t have a tendency to spend its problems away; rather, it just quietly gives up and moves on to something else. Google Stadia’s launch will be a quiet and cautious affair, not a loud one.
Stadia will launch this November in two tiers: Google Stadia Base, which carries no subscription fee (you must buy the games though) and Google Stadia Pro, which costs $9.99 per month and has 4K support plus free games and discounts on others. Base won’t be offered until 2020, but each Stadia box will come with three free months of Pro.
That much-touted feature where you can watch a guy play a Stadia game on YouTube or Twitch and then jump into the game yourself? It is indeed a thing, but it may be overestimating the desires of Twitch’s passive audience.
In terms of games, Stadia will have thirty of them in the “launch window” including Destiny 2, Baldur’s Gate, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, all three games in the most recent Tomb Raider trilogy, and Doom Eternal. Of course, these are games the competition already has — and on physical disc. What is the real REASON a gamer would WANT to forsake their precious game shelf and subject themselves to the whims of a big company who can remove any game from their library at any time, even if they paid full price for it?
Perhaps the money. Google Stadia costs just $129.99. The box includes a Chromecast Ultra, one Stadia controller, a three-month Stadia Pro subscription, and a voucher to give the same subscription to a friend (it’s up to that friend to track down another controller). Turns out you can slash a lot off the price if you don’t have to include a heavy box with a lot of chips in it.
Maybe the gaming community will notice Stadia and maybe they won’t. Maybe it’ll succeed, or maybe it’ll be another Google Glass. The company will survive either way. Stadia is simply there.