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Google Stadia Pro explained: Less the Netflix model, more like PlayStation Plus

Cloud-based gaming is a pretty radical change for the industry, and potentially in a really great way. Google is taking a huge leap with its Stadia service, but there’s been a lot of confusion with how pricing and the Pro tier works, and that’s got many thinking there’s no value. Here’s what you need to know about Google Stadia Pro and how its pricing actually works.

Google Stadia doesn’t actually cost anything |

By far the biggest confusion and misinformation I’ve seen from users and the media alike since Google dropped details on Stadia pricing is that you have to pay for it. Put simply, that’s false.

Google Stadia as a service actually costs nothing except for the games you’re playing on it. This tier of service is called “Stadia Base.” That grants users the ability to play games at 1080p/60fps, well playable for any mainstream title. With both Stadia Base and Stadia Pro, Google will charge users for most games. While the store isn’t open just yet, Google has said that games will be sold at their usual retail prices.

In short, Google Stadia as a service doesn’t cost users a dime, it just costs them their games, just like a console or PC would.

Stadia Pro delivers benefits and ‘free games’ |

Google’s main selling points for Stadia Pro, the $10 per month subscription tier of Stadia, are its benefits. The core benefit here is that Stadia Pro subscribers get access to free games on a “regular” basis.

The first of these is Destiny 2: The Collection, which includes the core game and all of its currently-available expansions. It’s still unclear what future titles will be “freebies,” but Google is off to a strong start. There’s a slight catch to those free games, though, which is that they only stay in a user’s library as long as they’re paying for the subscription.

On top of these free games, Stadia Pro subscribers will still be able to purchase games at full price, and they’ll stay in their library permanently. This is where quite a bit of confusion has come from, as many expected Google to go for the “Netflix model.” In that case, Google would be giving a collection of games for a monthly price without users needing to pay for further titles. That’d be a great system, but it’d likely mean paying quite a bit more than $10 a month especially for big releases that are coming to Stadia.

google stadia free base tier comparison

Stadia itself costs nothing, unless you want the benefits of the Pro subscription

Alongside the free games, Stadia Pro subscribers will get discounts on select game purchases, also just like PlayStation Plus. That’s a really nice bonus, and one that has lasting benefits if you end up canceling your subscription at some point.

The other big benefit of Stadia Pro and its pricing model is better quality. Google offers up 4K HDR quality at 60fps with 5.1 Surround Sound as well. These are probably less exciting for more users compared to the free games, but it’s a nice bonus for the monthly cost.

This pricing model is far from unprecedented |

If you really look at Stadia Pro’s pricing model, it might sound familiar. Sony offers a similar “subscription” with PlayStation Plus that gives monthly free games among other benefits.

If anything, I’d say that Stadia nails this pricing model even more than Sony because the Pro tier isn’t required for online play, where PlayStation owners are required to pay for Plus to use online features. $10 a month makes Stadia Pro’s pricing much higher than PlayStation Plus, though, as Sony’s service is $59 per year, half the cost of what Google offers. A single month does cost $10, though.

stadia across devices

What does Stadia Pro’s pricing mean for users? |

Google Stadia Pro’s pricing is a double-edged sword for Google. At a glance, the service looks like a typical Netflix-style subscription. Pay one fee each month and get access to a library of games without paying a dime. However, that’s just not what the service is.

Still, $10 a month for Stadia Pro is a good deal in my eyes, at least for a subset of users. Google Stadia doesn’t require a console that’s going to get outdated or require timely downloads. Plus, it works on almost any device with almost any controller. This is key to Stadia’s appeal, as it’s going to do well with those who don’t want a huge upfront investment.

For example, let’s look at a kid who still needs to ask their parents for money to get new games or hardware. Convincing a parent to drop a few hundred dollars for a console and the other $60 for a game isn’t easy. However, getting them to spend $60 on a game or even $10 a month for Stadia Pro is pricing that’s far easier to convince.

You can also think of those who only play a couple of games. If you’re just looking to check out the latest hit title, buying it on Stadia saves buying a console and the associated expenses involved in that.

google stadia founder's edition kit

Did you pre-order the Stadia Founder’s Edition kit?

Is Stadia’s pricing right for you? |

Google Stadia isn’t for everyone, and its Pro tier isn’t either. Is it right for you? Did you pre-order the Founder’s Edition kit? Drop a comment below and let us know.

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Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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