This probably isn’t a surprise to most people who are familiar with Stadia at this point, but Google’s upcoming cloud gaming service isn’t a Netflix for games. This comes from Stadia’s Director of Product during the first official Stadia AMA on Reddit yesterday, who says it’s more like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, the two services that can be found on PS4 and Xbox One respectively.
This makes sense, given that Netflix charges one flat monthly fee and you as the subscriber of that service have access to a large curated list of movies and TV shows that is constantly being added to, swapped out, etc. You don’t pay any more money for the content that you choose to watch, you simply pay every month and consume content as much as you like.
With Stadia Pro, (and none of this new information following the Stadia Connect event that happened back in June), you pay a monthly fee of $10 and you get access to whatever the company is choosing to give you as a subscriber for a free game that month, of which there will be roughly one per month and it will be a growing pool of titles.
You’ll also get the ability to buy game titles separately which you can play across screens like the Pixel 3, your Chromecast Ultra-powered TV, and Chrome on PCs, in 4K resolution, and you’ll sometimes get Stadia Pro-exclusive discounts on games that you can buy for the platform, whereas Stadia Base subscribers (once it’s available next year) will not get discounts and will have to pay a higher price.
This might be shocking to hear, but this is exactly how PlayStation Plus works. You sign up for a monthly fee, you get a couple free games a month to add to your library which you can access at any time so long as you continue to subscribe, and you still buy games you want and sometimes you get special discounts that people who don’t subscribe to PS Plus don’t get.
Again, this is probably something that most people were already suspecting or aware of, seeing as how anyone who understands PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold were able to compare those two with Stadia Pro and put two and two together. That said, now there is no more confusion as to what Stadia’s business model is like thanks to a comparison from Doronichev. Or at least there should be no more confusion.
Now that the Netflix comparison can be put to rest officially, how is that likely to make consumers feel? It isn’t likely to change the minds of consumers who already weren’t interested in Stadia to begin with, and it shouldn’t change the minds of anyone who was/is interested because Google was clear from the point of its Stadia Connect event about game distribution and what the service would be offering.
In addition to clearing up what service to best compare Stadia Pro to, Doronichev also talked about numerous other details of Stadia as a whole, like how the controllers wouldn’t be supporting Bluetooth audio at launch, and that parents would have a Parental Dashboard to give some control over their kids’ experience on the platform.