Google’s video game streaming platform, Stadia, is launching later this year. However, there’s still some confusion as to how exactly this platform will actually work. As Director of Product Andrey Doronichev explained recently in a Reddit AMA, the Stadia Pro subscription service, contrary to popular perception, will NOT be a “Netflix for games” where subscribers are given access to a vast library of games at their disposal for a monthly fee. So what exactly ARE you getting by subscribing to Google’s game platform? Let’s break it down.
The Stadia Twitter account recently posted an image explaining what Stadia users can expect, and how the Stadia Pro subscription service is different from Stadia Base. First, it’s worth explaining that Stadia Pro is a subscription service, but Stadia itself is a platform. Think about it this way: Stadia is a platform, like Xbox or PlayStation – it’s just that Stadia is a completely digital platform, so you don’t need to pay for expensive hardware. The Pro subscription service is like Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus – not something you need to play games on the platform, but is available for anyone interested in the service’s perks. You do NOT need a Pro subscription in order to play games on Stadia.
First, let’s talk about Stadia Base. Basically, this “plan” is like just owning a console. You don’t pay a monthly fee, you just buy individual games that you want to play for each game’s individual price. Since Stadia is a digital console, buying games through Base is like buying a digital game through the PlayStation Store. A one-time payment, and the game’s yours. By simply buying a game on Base, you can play that game on whatever hardware you have that supports Stadia (which, at launch, will include many laptop and desktop computers, Pixel phones, and TVs with Chromecast Ultra), you’ll be able to stream the game instantaneously without having to actually download it, and you’ll be able to play multiplayer modes online. Games bought with Base will run up to 1080p at 60fps and have stereo sound. This is everything you get for simply buying an individual game through Base – no need to buy a physical console, and no need to pay a monthly fee.
So now let’s talk Pro. As stated before, Pro is a subscription service, like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, that offers perks to its subscribers, but does NOT grant access to a full library of games like Netflix offers for movies and shows. In other words, if you are subscribed to Pro, you still need to buy each game individually. But here’s why you may want to subscribe to Pro anyway: Pro subscribers will be able to play games up to 4K at 60fps, a step up from the 1080p offered to those not subscribed to Pro, and Pro subscribers will have access to 5.1 surround sound. Basically, buying games simply through Base will give you a good gameplay experience, but those subscribed to Pro will have an even better experience. Additionally, Pro subscribers will be offered exclusive discounts on games not available to those not subscribed to the service. Lastly, while Pro subscribers will still, for the most part, have to pay for each game they play individually, those subscribed to the service will receive one free game a month (though the number of free games received each month may fluctuate depending on the month), which they will be able to keep in their library as long as they’re subscribed to the service. (If you unsubscribe from Pro at any time and then subscribe again later, you will regain access to the library of games you had before you unsubscribed, including any free games you received, but you will NOT gain access to monthly games that were free during the time you were unsubscribed.) The Pro service will cost $9.99 a month, in addition to however much you’re paying for individual games.
Lastly, those who pre-ordered the Stadia Founder’s Edition will gain access to Stadia Pro this November, while Stadia Base will become available sometime in 2020. The Stadia Founder’s Edition costs $129 and comes with a Stadia controller, Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro, a Buddy Pass so you can play with a friend, and first dibs on a Stadia username. The Founder’s Edition is currently available for pre-order.