Despite the hopes of many, Google is shooting down rumors that Stadia games will be cheaper or that they will immediately inspire developers to lower their prices.
“I don’t know why it would be cheaper,” said Google Stadia’s Phil Harrison in a roundtable interview attended by Eurogamer. “The value you get from the game on Stadia means you can play it on any screen in your life – TV, PC, laptop, tablet, phone. I think that is going to be valuable to players.”
That’s a bit of a disappointment. While you may think it’s naive to expect developers to drop the price of their games if they don’t have to, one of the biggest upsides of the transition to cloud gaming in the eyes of many has been the idea that the benefits it offers may reduce the cost of game development and therefore reduce the cost of video games. The logic surrounding that idea has always been a little faulty, but the hope remained.
So how much will Stadia games cost? The Stadia team isn’t saying, and it also doesn’t sound like they’re putting themselves in a position to determine the cost of individual titles.
“The publisher or the developer is in as much control of the prices as we are, so it’s a bit difficult for me to say what the prices will be right now,” said Harrison. “But, we’re obviously going to be very aware of prevailing prices in the marketplace.”
That’s actually quite the interesting statement, which brings to mind the controversy surrounding the Epic Games Store and its exclusives. We assume that Google will take a revenue bite out of third-party game sold via the Stadia platform, but how big of a bite will they take and how much will their cut determine the price of games on the platform. We know they won’t be cheaper, and we can’t imagine they’ll be that much more expensive, but the figures of it all may determine how enthusiastic studios are to participate in what Harrison calls a “great moment of transition and inflection in the industry.”