Google’s Stadia platform has officially been available for a year, and quite a bit has happened in that time. The library has grown, features have been added, and finally, it seems like people are starting to see the value. What’s next? Stadia Vice President John Justice had a few things to say about that, including free-to-play games and where he sees customers for the platform.
Speaking to The Verge, Justice took some time on the platform’s anniversary to discuss where Stadia stands and what’s coming next. The whole article is a great read (as is our Kyle Bradshaw’s Stadia one-year review), but here are the big highlights on what Justice had to say.
‘Many’ more free-to-play games are coming
Other titles will follow Destiny 2
As of today, Destiny 2 is a 100% free-to-play game on Stadia. You don’t need to pay for the game or a Stadia Pro subscription. Combine that with no cost for hardware, and you’ve got an extremely accessible way to get in on free-to-play games.
Going forward, Stadia VP John Justice says that “many” more free-to-play games are coming, although with no timeline attached to that statement. It’s a bit unfortunate we don’t know what’s coming, but it’s great to see Google opening the doors to this. After all, some of the most popular games in the world are free-to-play, but few of them are on Stadia. It would be great to see hits like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, Warframe, Brawlhalla, or Call Of Duty: Warzone landing on Stadia. At this point, it certainly seems like that’s coming.
Google wants to push Stadia as ‘free and accessible’
A change from last year’s futuristic pitch
When it was announced in early 2019, Google heavily pushed the platform as offering things a traditional gaming console would never be able to. Things like Stream Connect, which lets you view another player’s point of view, or direct streaming to YouTube. Google made a lot of promises but hasn’t delivered on several of them. One of its biggest promises, though, was that Stadia would offer users a free console in the cloud, and that’s certainly happened. Justice says that Stadia’s free nature is “very compelling” for a lot of people. His biggest pitch for why people should play on Stadia is that it’s “free and accessible.”
Personally, that’s an argument I agree with. Consoles may last for years, but spending hundreds of dollars may not make sense for players who only pick up a handful of games per year. Justice also points out that massive games like Cyberpunk 2077 don’t need to be downloaded on Stadia, something that even next-gen consoles still have to deal with. Heck, the game literally requires two discs on PS5.
Stadia is free. The platform is free, multiplayer is free, you can get games how you want to get games. For a lot of people, that’s very compelling.
This focus also fits with Stadia’s core goal right now, which Justice says is expanding the library. Google isn’t so much focused on adding new features as it is bringing more games to Stadia for players to sink their time into. Since that’s one of the core complaints from many, it’s a worthy goal! The past year has seen a lot of progress on new features, though, so it’s clear Google is working on both projects.
Stadia will not adopt the ‘Netflix’ model
Like it or not, Stadia won’t become xCloud or Luna
Many people have complained that Google Stadia doesn’t offer an “all you can eat” library of games for its $10 monthly fee like xCloud or Luna do, despite Stadia Pro currently offering 35 games to subscribers and having offered nearly twice that number over the past year. Whatever the case, things aren’t changing anytime soon.
Justice says that Google is not exploring business models at this time that would make Stadia work like xCloud or Luna. The current business model will stick around for the foreseeable future.
We’ve seen the best focus from us that’s resonated with players has been convenience. Not having to buy expensive hardware is very valuable to people. We’ve always seen that the ability to buy a la carte or get games via subscription has been very important. People want choices — some people want to buy one game and play it and play it without any subscription.
To Justice’s point, Stadia does kind of offer the best of both worlds. You can buy games if you want to, but you can also get a sizeable library free of charge if you pay monthly, and that library only grows each month.