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Google Stadia games will cost the same as other consoles despite ownership concerns

Stadia Controller
Stadia Controller (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Stadia is an upcoming game streaming platform which requires a $10 subscription at launch.
  • Concerns of ownership of games have been brought up since it was revealed.
  • Stadia head Phil Harrison says he doesn't know why games would be cheaper.
  • He also says that he expects Stadia versions of games to be the best despite input lag and other issues.

Updated June 29, 2019: It seems that publishers have the right to charge whatever they want for games, as Google won't tell companies to discount their "AAA" titles because they're digital and only available through a subscription service. However, it's up to publishers to determine what would be fair. Given the fact that digital games also cost $60 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you shouldn't expect a discount due to the fact that they're streaming only on Google Stadia.

Google Stadia is an upcoming game subscription service which requires a paid subscription at launch as well as separate game purchases. Considering that there is no physical version you can own, or even a download, gamers naturally assumed that Stadia purchases would cost less. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Eurogamer recently caught up with Stadia head Phil Harrison who said games will cost the same as they do on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. He even questioned why they would be cheaper, ignoring the question of ownership. The following excerpt details the interaction.

'I don't know why it would be cheaper,' Harrison replied when Eurogamer asked. So, how does Stadia justify charging full-price for a video game you can only stream? By making it available to play on any screen, Harrison said. 'The value you get from the game on Stadia means you can play it on any screen in your life,' he said. 'I think that is going to be valuable to players... In theory, the Stadia version of a game is going to be at the highest possible quality of innovation and sophistication on the game engine side.'

It's unclear if Stadia versions of games will be better because of factors like input lag, network lag, video quality, video artifacts, and more. A recent comparison between early versions of Microsoft's xCloud and Stadia revealed that Stadia exhibited significantly more input lag. However, a final comparison when both launch should offer a definitive answer.

Did you expect Stadia games to be priced less? Let us know. It's unclear if the $10 a month "Stadia Pro" subscription will offer any new games at launch aside from Destiny 2: Shadowkeep. Hopefully, the company will talk more about what's included with Stadia Pro because Microsoft's xCloud is set to hit preview in October and is rumored to be part of Xbox Game Pass in some way.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

33 Comments
  • Would a market driven by dematerialization lower the price of boxed games ?
  • Xbox, Pc, Portable, mobile
    Devices, we're not going to buy the same game 4 times ?
  • Looking forward to see Microsoft exclusive on stadia
  • Not happening, exclusive means solely available on a single platform 🙈.
  • They already said they won't be coming to other platforms.
  • @Asher Madan
    Like how Gears 5 and other MS games will go to steam?
  • Fiber is barely available in the USA.
  • A lot of apartment buildings in major cities don't support fiber in the United States.
  • All you need is reliable internet, even at 25mbps it's still 1080p.
  • Most people in the US also have data caps because the ISPs are getting away fleecing people for unlimited packages. I pay £30 for my unlimited 80 down/20 up package - fibre to the cabinet and the last leg being copper.
  • '' He also says that he expects Stadia versions of games to be the best despite input lag and other issues '' 😂😂😂 yeah no.. xCloud is already beating Stadia but no Cloud streaming service can compete with direct hardware gaming.
  • Well, we'll see what the reviews say and if they are not exactly forthcoming about the shortcomings then the reviewers will lose all credibility.
  • "Considering that there is no physical version you can own, or even a download, gamers naturally assumed that Stadia purchases would cost less. "
    Really? Which gamers actually thought that? Their whole argument is that you save money by not buying consoles, no need to keep buying $500 consoles every 3 years and no need to pay a subscription fee to play online games.
    I never thought their games would be cheaper.
  • It's a natural presumption after all there is no associated cost when it comes to traditional hardware let alone physical copies of games. Most of the hardware costs is effectively the controller and Chromecast dongles. Ergo the thinking would be cheaper. To be honest, without massive data compression being available Stadia will be impractical for many people if the earlier indications of 20 gigs per hour is true.
  • Only kind of. I don't get a discount on PS4, Xbox or Switch for buying it digitally now so why would that change with Stadia. The real concern is how quickly Google kills things if they aren't successful
  • @TechFreak1
    How is it a natural presumption? Like Monte Constable1 said, digital games should be cheaper than physical games. But here, when you are paying 60 bucks for a game, that price includes renting a google server that can run your game whenever you want on a device you already own.
    If you buy a digital game on say XB1, you pay 60 bucks for the game, a 250-500 bucks console to be able to play your game and plus you also need to pay 5 bucks per year to play it online. Google's argument is that you'll save loads of money that way. And when you consider that 60 bucks includes the software, online service and hardware cost, their argument makes total sense. And your final sentence about internet speed is off topic. It almost looks like you want to discredit google's Stadia for some reason. This is for those who have decent internet speed. I'm sure Google studied the market before announcing this. We'll see if it'll be a success or not. The topic here is about the price of Stadia games.
  • Then what if someone can't continue there subscription for whatever reason, do they lose all the games that they purchased? Because that doesn't happen with Xbox or PS!
  • @dertdog
    I'm not sure what you're talking about. If someone buys a game on Stadia, he doesn't need a subscription to play it.
  • Then why are digital games on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 still consistently more expensive than their physical counterpart? This article is having a go at Google for something Sony and Microsoft have been doing since digital became a thing. Talk about double standards.
  • 20GB per hour for 4K 60fps. Something an XBox only wishes it could do. Low resolutions will not take nearly as much bandwidth.
  • Nice try justifying Stadia but no one is buying a new console every 3 years. I think there was 8 years between Xbox 360 and Xbox One, though Xbox One X was maybe 4 years. Not to mention, you’re spending the same or more on Stadia at $10/month. That 4 year gap between Xbox One and One X would be $480 in Stadia subscription fees. I’m not hating on Stadia for this reason, just don’t think the argument of not purchasing hardware has much merit from a cost perspective. Most concerning is the lag and what happens when Stadia goes belly up.
  • And once you have your console the price won't change as it's yours. For that 4 years no doubt Stadia will up the price and milk money other ways. They are just shifting the cost around but we will no doubt pay more long term.
  • @robyoung
    Once again you're talking about the subscription. Here the topic is about when you buy a game.
    When you buy a game you don't have to pay more to play it.
  • That is the same cost as XBox Live, but the Stadia fees won't be required. Xbox also struggles to hit 60fps at 1080p. Stadia will do it at 4K. Stadia is definitely a long shot, but if it works as advertised, it could be competitive.
  • Well the next Xbox is allegedly supposed to do that too, who knows though as I personally expected more from Xbox One X. I always did think Xbox Live was a rip-off though. I mostly play on PC myself so never pay any monthly fees. Maybe once 5g takes off it’ll be competitive. The whole “any screen” argument falls a bit flat unless it’s over mobile data too, since you can already stream to most devices from PC and I think consoles to almost any screen over WiFi.
  • @Magnus
    No one is buying a new console every three year???
    You clearly haven't been regular enough around here.
    When the S came out, so many people here were going crazy talking about how amazing it is to watch UHD movies and to play with HDR, when Scorpio came so many people went crazy about resolution and now a new console was announced less than 2 years before Scorpio and people are again going crazy. Also I'm not talking about the subscription. I'm not talking about Stadia Pro. So please don't count that 10 bucks a month.
    So many people just keep talking about it but here: ONCE YOU BUY A STADIA GAME, YOU DON'T NEED A SUBSCRIPTION TO KEEP PLAYING IT. Ad I'm not trying to justify Stadia. I'm just talking about their selling point. There is way too much anti-Stadia going on here (for obvious reasons). Sometimes it's good to hear some other point of views. Now, if you want my opinion on the thing, I'll surely not subscribe to it. If I ever do give them money I'll do it to play their exclusives.
  • > It's unclear if the $10 a month "Stadia Pro" subscription will offer any new games at launch aside from Destiny 2 Stadia is launching in December, Destiny 2 is going free to play in September...
    What a generous offer Google !
  • i believe Stadia is giving the entire Destiny 2 package for free with $10 sub. This includes base games + all dlcs. the free to play in September is just the base game.
  • I paid all this money for a console so shouldn't the games be cheaper?
  • lol Brilliant question.
    Why isn't Asher Madan replying? OUCH
  • How about if they put borders of targeted ads around the games? Seems very alphabet-esque.
  • Stadia is so DOA. Who would dare drop $60 on a game on Stadia that could become worthless if Google cancels the service. A digital purchase on Stadia is not the same as a digital purchase on Xbox. Once I buy an Xbox game and download it, I can play it as long as I own the console and the game sits on my hard drive. It doesn't matter if Microsoft closed the servers or went belly up. This is different from Stadia where if they close the service, the game will be completely worthless. A Stadia purchase is basically a $60 rental.
  • And if the Microsoft servers go down and your console dies on the same day? You're in the same boat. But these are what if's, and they mean sweet fa.