The wait is nearly over: Google recently announced it would host its second Stadia-focused event on June 6 at 12 p.m. Eastern. The company has indicated that the showcase will include details about the cloud gaming service’s game roster, launch date, and price. Stadia’s pricing, in particular, has been a tantalizing mystery, because it will likely set the standard for how the console free games of the future will be developed and paid for.
The company has been tight lipped about how it plans to monetize Stadia. But based on existing cloud gaming services, like PS Now and Shadow, some sort of monthly subscription will involved. But a flat rate subscription is also unlikely to be gamers only option, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot hinted in April is weighing an option that would let gamers pay by the hour. More recently, yet another industry expert has suggested Stadia will follow yet another pricing option as well, by enabling individual game purchases, too.
“What I’ve heard is that it’ll be some combination of both, sort of like Amazon Prime - some games are part of the subscription, others you have to buy a la carte,” tweeted Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier on June 2.
Schreier is a trusted source for industry information and correctly leaked the Fallout 4 setting and game dialogue before the title was released. If he’s right about Stadia’s pricing, it will likely offer two types of games: Accessible titles offered through a monthly payment, and some titles that need to be unlocked with a one-time payment. This strategy may be a response to criticism that a streaming-only model will make story-driven, single-player games, like Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Last of Us too difficult to monetize, blunting developer ambition and setting off an industry-wide race to the bottom.
After all, games like Red Dead Redemption 2 took years and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop, but they pay off for developers who can charge top dollar for every copy of the game that’s sold. All you can eat gaming might not allow them to continue making those bets, which might leave gamers stuck with titles that rely on post-sale monetization schemes like Fortnite and Apex Legend.
A dual model makes more sense than simply letting users download and store their games permanently. One of Stadia’s stated objectives is to eliminate the need for hour-long download times, which makes it seem unlikely that the service will give gamers the option to install specific titles. Instead, they’ll likely buy the ability to stream a particular game whenever they’d like.
This two-pronged approach could make Stadia’s game roster especially diverse and more appealing to gamers. Titles that include micro-transactions could coexist alongside lengthier, story-driven games.
All will be made clear on Thursday when Google will stream its first ever Stadia Connect on YouTube at noon Eastern. Gamers looking forward to cloud streaming service aren’t going to want to miss out.