Google Stadia: A novel idea gone wrong3rd September 2019
Google Stadia has been pitched as the promised land for the video gaming world, and yet it persists to look worse and worse with each passing announcement.
The idea is novel and could even be earth-shattering for the industry, if executed correctly.
Google Stadia will not be a Netflix for games
Google Stadia, when launched, will be a cloud-based service through which gamers can stream games directly with no downloads required.
This led many to believe that Stadia could be a Netflix for video games.
This speculation has since been shut down during a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) conducted by Google Stadia’s director of product, Andrey Doronichev.
In response to a comment, Doronichev revealed: “To be clear, Stadia Pro is not ‘Netflix for games’ like some people have mentioned, a closer comparison would be like Xbox 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.”
He also elaborated on how Stadia Base users will not receive any free games and instead will have to purchase the ones they wish to play.
“But hey, Stadia Base gives you free access to the state-of-the-art gaming hardware in our datacentre,” he added.
Google Stadia is very expensive for what is really is
At present, users can pre-order the Stadia Founder’s Edition for £119 which includes three months of Stadia Pro.
All that users will receive is the controller, headset, three months of Stadia Pro, a founder’s badge, a buddy pass and Stadia name.
A console controller is typically £50, meaning the Stadia controller will cost more than double a regular console controller.
To put this into context, you could purchase an Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 for between £200-250 – that includes a controller.
Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus membership is roughly £40 per year, which could increase the cost for purchasing a console to roughly £300.
However, you would typically get a game or two included with the console purchase, with each game worth roughly £40-50.
To buy two games for the Stadia Base would increase the cost to approximately £219 – just £80 cheaper than purchasing a console with online membership.
This immediately undermines the benefit of owning the Stadia Base or Pro.
For one, users will need a strong, stable internet connection to stream games compared to owning the games on console.
Secondly, it is scarcely cheaper to purchase the Stadia than to purchase a console outright.
This could be remedied when considering the Stadia is set to launch November 2019, with the next generation of Xbox hardware dubbed to be released late 2020.
Next generation consoles will be notably more expensive when they are released compared to current generation consoles.
But at present, this seems like the only tangible benefit to purchasing the Stadia and it is coming a year earlier than next-gen consoles.
Xbox and PlayStation game passes offer more bang for buck
To complicate matters, both Xbox and PlayStation have their respective game passes which can be purchased for roughly £10.
These both give access to around 100 games that can be played on the consoles.
In light of the game passes – which are nothing new – the Stadia does not seem cost efficient.
This includes the Stadia Pro, which will only offer one free game per month to begin with. The price difference between the Base and the Pro will hardly be much cheaper than purchasing a game outright, which begs the question – when it is released – what is the point of the Pro?
Once it is fully established and has a host of free games available to play with a Pro subscription, it will be more cost-efficient, but for now it is hard to see why anybody would purchase a Pro subscription.
The only caveat that could redeem the Stadia is the function to stream games and not download and waste precious hard drive storage space – but this means users need an incredibly strong internet to facilitate the streaming.
Realistically, people who have an internet connection sufficient enough to stream games will care about their hardware and as such the £100 saved with the Stadia won’t mean a great deal to them when their setup could be worth considerably more already.
This makes it hard to identify who the target audience for the Stadia is – which casual gamers, who care less about hardware, will have an internet connection strong enough to stream games and not be hampered by latency issues?
At its price, and for what it offers, it doesn’t seem to anywhere near the revolutionary idea that was once promised to gamers when it was announced.
Instead, with each passing day the benefits seem less and less worth its costly price tag.
Had its release been tied in with the next generation of consoles, its price tag would seem somewhat decent but for now, it seems no more than a novel idea that isn’t being executed properly.
With some months to go before it is released, there could be a fresh set of announcements that redeem it, but at present, it is hard to determine who exactly the target audience is.
If it is targeted at casual gamers that do not want to purchase expensive console hardware, then why make its price tag one-third of a console and demand gamers pay for each game unless they purchase a Pro subscription – at which point it would cost half the price of a console.
People have been caught in the hype that the Stadia would be a Netflix for games, and instead, it seems no more than a simple cash and grab.
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