So after getting some general ideas from Google about the Stadia device, today brought a lot of the nuts and bolts about the costs and delivery methods for the Google Stadia. Overall, there were a few surprises, but the big thing is that your appreciation of the service may be dependent on your bandwidth and how much you are willing to spend.
First off, the only way you get to join in on the Stadia experience on November 14th, 2019 is if you are willing to jump on the Google Stadia Founders Experience package. For the somewhat low price of $129, you get a controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a three month Stadia Pro membership for both you and one friend. Of course there are other options, like just getting the Stadia Pro experience or just using the Stadia Free, which costs absolutely nothing, but neither one of these options will be available until 2020. So if you want in early, you have to pay a premium price. I have thoughts on this, but lets describe some of these services first.
Stadia Pro is akin to Xbox Games with Gold or PlayStation Plus. You have access to premium streaming options like 4K/HDR/60FPS streaming options, and you will get selected games for free as long as you keep your subscription active. The Stadia Free option allows you to use any controller with a launched Chrome browser window, but you only get access to limited streaming options, up to 1080p/60FPS streams. So again, if you want all that is advertised, you must pay Google.
I was happy that Google did put down on paper what speeds you will need to make things work. To hit the vaunted 4K/HDR/60FPS threshold, you will need a full 35mbps to get everything working smooth. 1080p/60FPS will work on a minimum of 20mbps and at 720mbps, you will need a 10mbps connection. Of course, today’s release gave no actual working demo of the games working on those connections, so again, the argument about this working in a real world environment is still up for debate.
One place where the Stadia announcement hit it out of the park were the game announcements. We got the first real announcement of a Baulder’s Gate III during the Stadia presentation. Other games that will hit at or near the launch are the upcoming Ghost Recon game, Assassins Creed Odyssey, Doom, Doom Eternal and Rage 2 to name a few titles. Also announced was that anyone buying a Founders Edition right now will get a full free copy of Destiny 2 with all expansions and annual passes, including the newest pass.
With all of this out there, I was happy with the information that we received about the Google Stadia, but I still feel that there are too many unknowns here to accept the console right now at $129. The pack in of Destiny 2 is nice, but I still have concerns about the performance with my Internet. I also don’t like being forced into paying a decent chunk of change to get in on their launch date of November. If I don’t want to spend, the actual service launches in 2020 for the rest of us that might want to wait and feel out the service, which is a bit disheartening.
Let me know your thoughts on the Stadia conference and if you are looking to get one or not in the comments.