Whenever a new console or service comes out, we have to weigh its value. Is it worth opting at launch, when it will be most expensive? Should we get the assorted hardware to go with it? How many games would we want and need? Are the associated subscriptions going to be worth it? When it comes to the Google Stadia cost, it almost seems like it might not be worth it.
First, let’s think about the cost of admission. A Google Stadia basic system is $129. That gives you a controller, a Chromecast, and three months of the Pro subscription service. It’s a lot. And, if you decide to actually buy games, that price goes up even more. If you don’t subscribe, you can play games you buy for free. But, even though there is a streaming limitation, that doesn’t translate to price discount. You’re still paying, say, $59.99 for a version of Red Dead Redemption 2 or Shadow of the Tomb Raider that you can only play online.
Next, let’s think about the standard Stadia Pro subscription. It is $9.99 per month. However, only 22 games are available on the system at launch. To compare, PlayStation Now is $9.99 per month. When people subscribe, they have access to over 750 games they can play on the PlayStation or PC. They even have the option to download about 300 of them to a PlayStation 4, so as to not eat up data. Xbox Game Pass is $9.99 per month on an Xbox One and $4.99 per month on PCs, with an offer that lets people pay $1 for three months for the first time if they go with the GamePass Ultimate option that is normally $14.99 per month. While it has a smaller library, new first-party releases are guaranteed to be there and you download everything.
Now, while all that downloading with either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One would definitely go to caps in a bad way, it doesn’t compare with the cost of a Google Stadia. For example, if you are playing at 1080p, it is using 100MB per minute. How long do you play a game? Would you say a half an hour is the minimum amount of time? But then, some of the launch games are large, open world titles like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Final Fantasy XV, and Red Dead Redemption 2, which could take even more time. So, conservatively, we say you played for 60 minutes.
That would be 6GB. There are 1,000GB in a TB, which is the Comcast cap. So you should be fine. Unless you bump that up to 4K. Then, you use almost 16GB an hour, which could come up to over 1.4TB per month. That doesn’t factor in how much other streaming or internet usage you have going on in your life. Which could mean an extra fee per month to boost the cap. Let’s say $50, to be conservative.
But, what about the other elements? Google has sent out emails to users saying that, for the best possible performance, people shouldn’t use the internet in other ways while playing. If someone else in your home is streaming a movie, it’ll have a negative effect on your experience. Maybe you decide to upgrade your internet plan. That could drive the cost up even more.
For now, waiting on Google Stadia could be smart. See how much people like it. Watch if the prices on games go down, to account for the online-only part. See how others’ internet costs are influenced. Perhaps in the meantime, go with a service for your console while you wait. Within about three to six months, we should see if its really worth the money.