Following today’s presentation, we know much more about Google Stadia than we did before.
For instance, we know that the service will cost $9.99 a month, which grants you access to a free collection of games as well as the ability to buy standalone titles at a reduced rate. That effectively means that you’d have to be a Google Stadia subscriber for about three years before you pay as much as you will likely pay for a next-gen console. That’s a good thing.
We also learned that Google Stadia will at least be playable at internet speeds as low as 10 MBPS. There’s some debate concerning just how reliable the service will be at that speed, but that’s still a good thing.
However, Google Stadia can be a reliable, affordable, and relatively burden-free service, and it might not matter if Google isn’t able to secure the right exclusives.
Google revealed a lot about Stadia during their recent presentation, but the word “exclusives” was surprisingly absent from the conversation. That may not sound like too big of a deal, but it potentially is.
Let’s put it another way. Right now, it makes more financial sense for a person who mostly only plays third-party Triple-A games to go with Google Stadia. As long as their internet is fast enough, they’ll be able to arguably outperform next-gen consoles and not pay next-gen console prices for at least a few years. They even get a free library of games as a nice bonus.
You can certainly argue that the large number of gamers who only purchase games like Madden, FIFA, and Call of Duty each year would be better off with Stadia, but we’re not sure it’s that simple. For one thing, Google Stadia doesn’t currently support crossplay with PS4 (and likely PS5). If that feature doesn’t get worked out, then the gamers who support Sony consoles might stick with them to play games with PlayStation friends.
It goes beyond that, though. The Xbox One was a fantastic platform for third-party games (and the Xbox One enjoyed many price drops), but it failed largely due to its lack of exclusives. You can play FIFA and Call of Duty on just about any platform, but it turns out that quite a few gamers at least want the option to play God of War, Spider-Man, and Uncharted as well.
This puts Google and Stadia in a bit of an awkward position. Right now, Stadia’s best feature is its power and affordability. We’ve talked before about how power doesn’t really matter all that much, and affordability is only really important if you’re giving people a discount on what they perceive to be a premium product. Well, exclusive games tend to make any game platform a premium product.
We have no doubt that streaming services like Stadia are the future of gaming, but Stadia won’t let you play Halo Infinite, Gears of War, The Last of Us, and Death Stranding. That would be the Xbox and PlayStation. Without such notable exclusives, will Google be able to stay in the game long enough before Xbox and PlayStation introduce (and expand) their own streaming services?