- In November, Google finally launched a major gaming platform that was in development for years: Google Stadia.
- Instead of having to buy games on a disc or download them from a digital store, Stadia users stream games over the internet.
- The service launched with access limited to customers willing to pay $US130 for the “premiere edition,” but a free version named Stadia Base is on the horizon: It’s scheduled to arrive “over the next few months,” according to Google.
- The news comes amid criticism from some early adopters, who have slammed Google for being slow to roll out promised updates, and for a lack of communication with the community.
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Nearly three months ago, Google made its first major push into the multibillion-dollar video-game industry with Stadia: a Netflix-like game service that streams games to a variety of devices, no game console required.
Google Stadia is not a game console, nor is it a game platform, really – it’s a digital storefront run by Google where you can buy individual games.
Right now, to access that storefront, you have to pay $US130 for the Stadia “premiere edition.” That comes with a Stadia gamepad, a Chromecast Ultra streaming device, and three months of access to Stadia Pro, a monthly subscription service that provides free games each month, enables users to stream games at ultra-HD 4K resolution, and offers a few other bells and whistles.
In so many words: The only way to play Stadia games since launch in November has been to spend $US130 up front. But that’s about to change.
“Over the next few months, anyone in our 14 launch countries will be able to access Stadia for free,” Google representative Patrick Seybold told Business Insider in an email on Wednesday.
Those 14 countries include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The news of Stadia’s free tier going live in “the next few months,” which was first reported by Protocol on Wednesday, is the first major news about Stadia since launch last November.
The addition can’t come soon enough, as some of Stadia’s early adopters have already started losing the faith. Google has come under fire from some Stadia fans for not delivering on some promises made when the service was first announced, and for what they see as a lack of communication over the future roadmap.
Notable features are still missing from the service – like the ability to play Stadia on the vast majority of smartphones, including Apple devices and non-Google Android smartphones – but establishing the free “base” tier is an important step for Google’s fledgling service.
The company is promising a much bigger 2020, with “more than 120 games” scheduled to launch this year, over 10 of which are said to be exclusive to Stadia and launching in the first half.
It remains unclear when Stadia will support Apple devices, or when other promised features are coming.