Yesterday, Google revealed the full price for its Stadia streaming service. Rather, Google revealed how much you could pay to get the best version of Stadia, since technically you can also get it for free. Confused? Don't worry, we broke down the real cost of Google Stadia for you.
Google announced two variants of Stadia, a Stadia Pro/Founder's Edition due in November and Stadia Base, which won't arrive until 2020. Stadia Base is completely free, meaning you don't need to pay a monthly subscription cost or purchase any extra hardware. Instead, you just pay the cost of a game you want to stream on your Chrome browser and you're good to go.
Google also announced Stadia Pro, which you can purchase upfront for $130, with a $10 subscription fee each month. How did Google go from free to $130 so quickly? Well for starters, Stadia Pro will give members early access to Stadia this November, months before Stadia Base's 2020 launch. It also comes with some physical and digital goods we'll list below.
- Stadia Pro/Founder's Edition Package
- Price: $130
- Includes: Chromecast Ultra, Stadia controller, three-month Stadia Pro subscription, three-month Stadia buddy pass, first pick of Stadia name, Stadia copy of Destiny 2.
For a more detailed cost analysis, the $130 cost for the whole Stadia Pro bundle could be broken down as such:
- Chromecast Ultra – Regular Cost: $69 on the Google Store
- Stadia Controller – Regular Cost: $69
- Stadia Pro subscription – Three-month cost: $30
- Digital copy of Destiny 2 – Regular retail $170, price includes all content through Shadowkeep.
The cost of Stadia's Founder Edition for the components alone is $170, with an additional $170 value added for the complete edition of Destiny 2 coming to Stadia. While Bungie announced that Destiny 2 would be going free-to-play in September, the edition that comes with the Stadia Founder's Edition includes all the content and season passes through the upcoming Shadowkeep expansion. That brings the total value of the Founder's Edition to $340.
Plus, Stadia will offer some games for free as part of Stadia Plus' monthly subscription cost. Google hasn't announced what games will be available for free yet, but the company revealed that since Stadia isn't a subscription service, you'll still need to purchase Stadia games a la carte if they're not offered through Stadia Pro. Without knowing what kind of games Google plans on offering for free, it's hard to determine the value of Stadia's free game offerings.
Then there's the matter of how much Stadia will affect your internet, granted you are currently on a capped data plan.
In yesterday's Google livestream, the company answered one of the most pressing questions regarding Stadia: how much data you'll need to stream a game.
Google recommends 35Mbps to hit the best quality gaming, which is 4K, 60fps, HDR, and 5.1 surround sounds. At 20Mbps you can hit 1080p, HDR, and 5.1 surround sound; and at 10Mbps you can hit 720p at 60fps stereo sound.
For The Best Possible Experience
Using some math that's about 15.75GB per hour for 4K streaming. If you use your internet to play nothing but Stadia at 4K, you'll get about 65 hours of gaming before you hit 1TB. However, that's only if you're capped on data, and those plans vary depending on which internet provider plan you are on. Unlimited data plans would of course be under no such restrictions, though some internet service providers throttle data after a certain threshold.
At 1080p and Below
Likewise, Stadia's chart shows that it will cost about 9GB per hour for 1080p streaming, and 4.5GB per hour for 720p. Under the same 1TB data caps, at 1080p you can almost double the game time of 4K streaming to 113 hours.
Data Caps Aren't Everything
These limitations are based on the assumption that your internet data is capped, and you use your data for nothing but Stadia streaming all month. That's not a very realistic gaming or internet usage scenario. However, it does show that if you want to experience nothing but the best quality for Stadia streaming, it might be best suited for gamers with moderate to casual gaming habits.
If you're a gamer who plays and finishes 12 to 20 hour games once every month or two, then Stadia could be a great fit for you. You'll be able to play two full games a month and experience Stadia streaming at 4K the whole time, granted your internet is up to snuff. However, unless you have an unlimited plan, you probably can't marathon games like Persona 5 all the way through in 4K.
That's okay too, though. If you decide that you don't need 4K streaming, you can get a lot of gaming in playing titles at 1080p, 60fps with 5.1 surround sound. That's not too bad either considering 4K monitors are still considered a luxury, and consoles like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X have premium price tags of up to $500.
Is Stadia Right For You?
Ultimately, Stadia's pricing scales depend on your needs. If you have unlimited data and really want to get into Destiny 2, the Founder's Edition will save you over $100. If you have more limited internet, then you could put that savings towards a dedicated game console.