Google Stadia controller. Credit: Google
Google planned to reveal the details of its Stadia game streaming service during a livestream at 9am PT today. But a Canadian magazine called La Presse, which appeared to have been pre-briefed on the news, published an article revealing the service's pricing and release date a bit early.
La Presse reported that Stadia will launch in November with a Stadia Pro subscription through which players can stream certain titles at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second in exchange for $12 CAD per month. That service will rely on a Chromecast Ultra, a 4K streaming dongle, as well as the Stadia controller Google most likely plans to release alongside Stadia Pro when it debuts in a few months. (It's hard to imagine that not being the case.)
Stadia Pro will reportedly offer access to specific titles; other games will have to be purchased outright. That hybrid model is reminiscent of the approach Apple took with the Apple Music streaming platform and iTunes: the former offers access to most of the music someone might want in exchange for a monthly fee while the latter allowed people to fill in the gaps via one-time purchases. Whether that approach will prove successful for games is unclear.
Google is expected to release another offering called Stadia Base sometime in 2020. That version of the platform is free, but it limits streaming to 1080p, and people will only have access to individually purchased games. It's not clear if it will require the Stadia controller or if other gamepads will be supported. This version of the platform is likely meant specifically for people who are skeptical about the viability and enjoyability of game streaming.
La Presse claimed that Google will also start accepting pre-orders for a Founder Edition bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, a three-month subscription to Stadia Pro, and Destiny 2 for $169 CAD. That could offer some hints about the Stadia controller's price: the Chromecast Ultra costs $69 CAD, and three months of Stadia Pro are expected to cost $36 CAD, leaving just $64 CAD for the controller and Destiny 2.
Stadia Pro will reportedly offer access to 31 titles at launch from Ubisoft, Square Enix, and other AAA publishers. The examples cited by La Presse include Assassin's Creed Odyssey, The Division 2, the most recent Tomb Raider trilogy, and the 2016 release of Doom. Some of those games are fairly recent (The Division 2 was released in March) so unless the other 25 titles are particularly lackluster the catalog should be pretty compelling.
All versions of the Stadia platform will reportedly require connections of at least 10 Mb/s down and 1 Mb/s up to function. Streaming at 4K with 5.1 surround audio will require at least 35 Mb/s down. It's worth noting that these are just minimums, however, and the recommended connections for the best possible experience could be different. (Especially if a game is particularly latency-sensitive or otherwise less forgiving of any kind of delay.)
Google could eventually bring Stadia to other devices, such as its Chromebook laptops and Android smartphones, but for now it's expected to stick with the reliability afforded by the Chromecast Ultra and Stadia controller. So far we also know that Stadia relies on custom GPUs from AMD and that Google could eventually integrate Stadia with other services like YouTube. We should know more after the company's livestream at 9 a.m. PT / 12 a.m. ET today.