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Don't hold your breath for cheap games on Google Stadia

Thought PS4 and Xbox One titles were pricey? Well, it seems like Google Stadia will be in line with these consoles.

Published onJune 28, 2019

A photo of Google Stadia Controller
  • Google Stadia chief Phil Harrison suggests that Stadia titles will have a similar price-point to console games.
  • Harrison says the ability to play Stadia games on any screen justified the price.
  • The Stadia chief also pointed to the fact that you don’t need to buy a console to enjoy the service.

Google Stadia is being positioned as the Netflix of games, allowing users to play a collection of titles for $9.99 per month, on any device, if they choose the Pro subscription. The service will also host games that people can purchase outright, but it sounds like those expecting a cheap price tag will be disappointed. Update: A Google Stadia executive has confirmed that it’s not like Netflix, as you’re getting “roughly” one free game a month.

Buying a Google Stadia game means you’re getting a streaming version of it rather than a physical copy or digital download. This fact, and the subscription cost, doesn’t mean they will be cheaper than the likes of Xbox One and PS4 titles, according to Stadia chief Phil Harrison.

“I don’t know why it would be cheaper,” Harrison told Eurogamer. The executive added that the ability to play these games on any screen justified charging full price.

“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 was quoted as saying. “I think that is going to be valuable to players.”

Other reasons to opt for Stadia?

Google Stadia announcement

The Google executive and gaming veteran also points to Stadia’s ability to serve up the best possible visual quality. Google’s Stadia hardware will enable 4K/60fps gameplay if your internet connection can handle it, and it’s already confirmed that 8K support will be added in the future.

Harrison refused to divulge specific pricing for Stadia games though, saying publishers will play a role in determining prices. But the Stadia chief said they would be “very aware of prevailing prices in the marketplace.” 

It’s also worth noting that cheaper Stadia games would likely upset publishers, console partners, and retailers. Why would a gamer buy the more expensive version on a console or PC — be it a digital download or physical copy from the store — when the Stadia version is much cheaper? This could result in fewer games being released on consoles and PC due to reduced sales, and lower profit margins for Stadia releases as a result of the price tag.

Read: Google Stadia — The finer print of Google’s gaming service

But another big reason to opt for Stadia purchases is the fact that you don’t need to spend any cash on a console. The company will let you stream games to your phone, tablet, Chromecast Ultra, PC, and via the Chrome browser. So any money you would’ve spent on a console could theoretically go towards a longer term Stadia Pro subscription or game purchases.

Google’s Stadia head adds that offering both a subscription model and individual game purchases was about offering a choice to consumers.

“Not every developer and publisher is ready to move to subscription yet. Frankly, not every gamer is ready to move to subscription yet. So we wanted to give gamers a choice so they could engage in the games they wanted in the way they wanted — and in all cases, without the very high upfront cost of buying a sophisticated device to put under their TV or on their desk.”

The potential hidden costs of Google Stadia
A photo of Google Stadia Controller

Google isn’t the only company offering a hybrid approach to its gaming service. Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass offers a variety of games to download as part of its monthly subscription, but people can also opt to buy individual games (and they’re not necessarily cheap either). Then again, Xbox Game Pass might be the better option if you don’t have a speedy connection or a huge cap, as your console only needs to connect to Microsoft’s servers every 30 days for authentication purposes.

Microsoft is also working on its Project xCloud technology, allowing users to stream Xbox games from the firm’s own servers to other devices. The tech, which will let you stream your existing library and Game Pass titles, is reportedly set for an October preview. Like the idea of a Google-backed streaming service though? Then you can check out the Google Stadia Founder’s Edition via the button below.