Google today revealed the official launch date of its Stadia streaming service — at least, the date when those who’ve paid the Chromecast Ultra toll will get it. No word yet for the rest of us.
The mention of Stadia was cleverly slipped in at the beginning of the event, and then quickly eclipsed by bigger news (which you can read about it all here, if you like). All Rick Osterloh, Google’s head of hardware, said on the topic was that “Stadia” would launch on that day. He left out that this only applies to a very limited number of potential users.
— Google (@Google) October 15, 2019
Google’s charm offensive ahead of Stadia’s launch has hyped the fact that it’s essentially a console-less gaming service. You can play Stadia games on any supported device — laptops, desktops, browsers, some mobile devices. All the AAA games you could ever want would theoretically be available, and you can stream them without loading and with minimal latency (though Stadia promises to be a massive data hog). Stadia comes in two flavors: Stadia Pro, the paid service that offers the higher resolutions, and Stadia Base, the free version. If you just heard Osterloh’s announcement without context, you’d be forgiven for thinking both of those would be available on the 19th.
Actually, neither one will be available then — not in the pure form, anyway. When Stadia was first revealed, Google also revealed an expensive “premium” edition called the Founder’s Edition. Anyone who got this would get a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller, plus three month’s worth of Stadia Pro, for $129. A similar edition, called the Premiere Edition, was announced later. It’s essentially a console without a console — and that would be fine if it were just a luxury extra. However, a spokesperson later confirmed that having the Founder’s Edition is the only way to play Stadia at launch.
So much for wanting to free customers from the tyranny of consoles. Google still hasn’t actually told us when Stadia Pro will be available to those who didn’t pre-order these hardware bundles — though given that those who did only have three months’ worth of a Pro subscription for their money, one would hope it’s less than three months after the initial launch. And we still have no clue when Stadia Base is coming out, other than some vague date next year.
Google even addresses this in its official blog post on the matter, saying that only: “If you were one of the first gamers who pre-ordered and have received your Founder’s Editions, you’ll be able to buy and play your favorite games beginning at 9AM PST/5PM BST/6PM CET on November 19.” Nothing about Pro by itself, just the Founder’s Edition.
We’ve contacted Google for more info.