Stadia Price Point: Project Execs Drop Hints About Google's Cloud Service
Stadia, Google’s upcoming cloud gaming service has promised to eliminate two of the most annoy facets of modern-day gaming: expensive hardware and hour-long download times. These bold pledges have yet to be backed up by the concrete evidence of a price or game roster, but Stadia chief Phil Harrison and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot have hinted that a big announcement is just around the corner.
Harrison confirmed that his team has settled on a pricing model, but it would be announced at a later date. He told GameSpot that deciding how much the service should cost was a two year process involving multiple parties.
“We have had a fantastic user research team as a core part of the Stadia team for two years now,” Harrison said. “And so, we have our point of view, we then test various hypotheses with consumers and publishing partners, and then get to the right result.”
Currently available cloud gaming services, like Sony’s PlayStation Now and Shadow, use a monthly-fee model similar to Netflix and Hulu. PS Now runs users $20 per month and Shadow costs $34.95 every month for a yearly plan. For a full year, Sony’s service costs $240 and Shadow nearly doubles that to $408.
A monthly subscription might be ideal for avid gamers that have time to play multiple times a week. But Ubisoft’s Guillemot suggested that Stadia will take both video game fanatics and more casual gamers into consideration with its pricing.
“I think we will have a multitude of ways,” Guillemot told GameSpot in March. “Either you buy full price and you play; or you will be able to also register, possibly, to play either one hour or two hours a day. There will be plenty of ways.”
People that can only game for a couple of hours on the weekend might find that a “pay-by-the-hour” model fits their habits perfectly. The option of an hourly rate also makes it easier for cloud gaming skeptics to test out the service before they shell out $40 for an entire month. But either way using Stadia should still be more affordable that buying games for a console.
Even if you disregard the $400 to $500 cost for a console, today’s most popular blockbuster games all cost $60 each. So just playing one game for a few hours a week on a monthly cloud subscription plan could be cheaper than buying it yourself.
Stadia may be looking to undercut its competitions less-binding prices, which could be exactly what it needs to win over both doubters of cloud gaming and casual gamers. Expect at least a mention of Stadia’s pricing in the summer before it launches at some point in 2019.