With all of the speculation surrounding Google’s entry into the video game streaming market, Google has asked that people stop referring to Stadia Pro as “Netflix for Games.” Instead, they’re relating it more to something like PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold.
Responding to a question during a Reddit AMA, Andrey Doronichev, Stadia’s Director of Product at Google, said: “To be clear, Stadia Pro is not ‘Netflix for Games’ like some people have mentioned.”
The question asked was in regards to the “free game” situation with Stadia’s paid subscription service, and Andrey felt the need to clear things up “as it is confusing due to mixed messages”.
“A closer comparison would be like Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus. The Pro subscribers get 4K/HDR streaming, 5.1 sound, exclusive discounts and access to some free games. Roughly one free game per month give or take. Starting with Destiny 2,” Doronichev continued.
He’s not wrong though, Stadia’s promotional material has been rather convoluted. Stadia Pro is a subscription service, costing £8.99 a month (just like a UK Netflix subscription), but on top of that, you’ll also be required to pay (full price) for games you want to play. At the same time, the Stadia website mentions how a Pro Subscription will “unlock access to an ever-expanding library of games at no extra cost.” So it’s not surprising why some feel like this would be a “Netflix for games” type of subscription.
It would appear that this “ever-expanding library of games at no extra cost” is actually a very slow expansion of Stadia’s library. “Roughly one free game per month give or take,” according to Mr. Doronichev. However, phrasing it in that way makes me think there will be months where Pro subscribers won’t see any free titles. In regards to “Stadia Base”, Google’s “free” version of Stadia, this means no free games period. To this Doronichev said, “But hey, Stadia Base gives you free access to the state-of-the-art gaming hardware in our datacenter ;) You spend your money to buy games you want.” Uhm… woo?
So, in a sense Stadia will have a growing library of games BUT, if you unsubscribe for a few months and then re-subscribe later, those games you missed in the months you weren’t a Pro member will NOT be free to you. You’ll still have access to the free games you got while you were a Pro member, and any title after you become a Pro member again, but the free titles that dropped in between will not be free for you.
The launch date for Google Stadia is just a few months away, but the gaming industry remains skeptical about how much of an impact it will have on the community. One of the largest looming questions still remains too. What happens if Google doesn’t see enough profit with this new streaming service and pulls the plug? What happens to all those games we bought??
Google is swearing they’re in this game for the long haul, highlighting the “liberating features” of their platform. There are no console or PC requirements so you don’t have to buy a new system to enjoy high-end games. No downloads mean no wait times for updates or new content. For developers, there is no need to worry about packaging their games on a disc and into a case; except there is because everyone isn’t going to just stop playing their PS4’s, Xbox One’s, and PCs.
All of this might sound alluring for some, but Google has yet to confirm or prove who exactly this new streaming service is for. Personally, I’d prefer to just buy a game and not worry about paying for a subscription on top of that. So far, Google hasn’t shown me anything that will change my mind, or why this new platform is a good deal for gamers.