On Tuesday Google ( GOOGL ) officially launches Stadia, a service for streaming and playing games without having to own a hard drive or even console. At launch, the service will support a narrower set of a dozen games – with more already in the works – and a reasonable price tag.
Google will be competing with a scary list of rivals in the industry betting on the future of video games lies in the cloud rather than just physical hardware. Microsoft ( MSFT ) is currently testing its Project xCloud service and Amazon is rumored to be working on its own cloud service. Sony recently dropped prices on its cloud service, Playstation Now, ahead of Stadia's launch.
"Technology is possible, but it requires a company like Google to make it a reality," Google Stadia Manager Phil Harrison told CNN Business.
While Sony's Playstation Now service, for example, only works on PC and console, Google supports a broader mix of platforms. Stadia works on TVs with a Chromecast Ultra dongle as well as on most computers with a Chrome browser and on newer Pixel phones. More units are planned to be added by 2020.
People will need to buy a special subscription package if they want to play at Stadia this year. The $ 1
29.99 premiere will include a Stadia controller, a Chromecast dongle, three months with a Stadia streaming subscription and a free pass so that a friend can play for three months as well. The company is currently taking
pre-orders for the Premiere Edition.
Next year, Google will release another streaming subscription option called Stadia Pro, which will cost $ 9.99 per month and include a rotating free game, as well as discounts to buy selected individual titles. The company will also offer a free-to-play version of Stadia with a lower resolution.
Games available at launch include: "Red Dead Redemption 2", "Assassin's Creed Odyssey", "Just Dance 2020" and three "Tomb Raider" games.
Analysts agree that content will make or break Stadia. "Google is not part of the content industry, so they will have to learn that part," said Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData, a Nielsen company that analyzes the video game industry.
may not be very convincing given that "Destiny 2" is already available for free elsewhere and "Tomb Raider" originally came out in 2013. But there is hope for Stadia on the horizon. Unreleased games like "Marvel's Avengers", "Watchdogs: Legion" and "Cyberpunk 2077" have already announced support for Stadia.
Google also manufactures its own games through its Stadia Games and Entertainment studio. It is led by Jade Raymond, a Google VP who previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. Harrison confirmed that original content could be available from next year.
The stages are being launched in 14 countries on Tuesday, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France and Italy. Google plans to expand it to more countries next year.