Bubbles? In this economy?
Google presented their first “Stadia Connect” today, and we now have a clearer picture of how its stream-based service will be provided. Google Stadia is expected to launch later this year in 14 countries. Unveiled back in March, Stadia is designed to stream games via the cloud directly to users, without using physical copies of games, or fully downloading digital versions.
The advantages offered by such a service, including 4K high-definition resolution with 60 frames per second, depend entirely on high-fidelity Internet service, which unfortunately means that in order to get that crisp, smooth 4k HDR/60fps experience, you’ll need at least a 35mbps download rate, which further raises the bar out of reach for many players who prefer high-end play but lack a robust connection. You can still use Stadia with a lower download rate of 10mbps, but you’ll playing with 720p/60fps.
If you’re inclined to pre-order the “Founder’s Edition,” for $129, it comes with a Chromecast Ultra, as well as a limited edition gamepad, three months of Stadia Pro subscription with a “buddypass” to give a friend 3 months as well, and access to Destiny 2. You also get to pick your Stadia name before non-founders if you care about that sort of thing. They also showcased “Stadia Pro,” a subscription service of $9.99/month that offers the “highest streaming quality.” There is also a way to use Stadia without a subscription, which they’re calling “Stadia Base,” which just lets you buy and play the games through the service, but they didn’t mention what sort of streaming quality you get with Stadia Base. So it looks like Stadia Pro is going to be an “Internet fast lane,” but for gamers! Gross.
We also had some peeks into what kinds of games will be offered in the service. During the presentation they showcased Baldur’s Gate 3 from Larian Studios, Destiny 2, Gylt, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, The Division 2, and Get Packed. There are several ports including Final Fantasy XV, The Elder Scrolls Online, Metro Exodus, and Thumper, to name a few.
All in all, we’ll have to see whether or not things like the Stadia Pro subscription will be worth the price of admission, but one part of the presentation stuck out to me. During the first Stadia Connect, presenter Phil Harrison stated “With Stadia, our goal is to make gaming more accessible for everyone…” And while it’s true that Stadia is going to bring games to more devices, the pro subscription’s “fast lane” aspects, combined with the fact that many places around the world still don’t have access to even basic-quality Internet connections, makes that statement ring hollow.
You can watch the full presentation below.