Cloud gaming platform Google Stadia faces subscription backslash

  • Google's cloud gaming platform Stadia is facing online backlash for its business model as users' subscriptions are beginning to lapse and they lose access to their games.

    Depending on who you talk to, Cloud Gaming is either a passing fad or the future of home entertainment. Tens of millions of people worldwide play video games at home on a PC or a console such as the PlayStation 4 or XBox One, but all of these options require buying hundreds of pounds worth of kit to get started. There's also the hassle of downloading and updating your games, which eats into the limited playing time many adults have in the evenings.

    Cloud gaming promised to free us of expensive and bulky hardware, buying a new console every few years, and the hassle of downloads. Rather than running on your local machine, the game runs on a server in a data centre and streams the video to your home just like Netflix does. Input from your controller is sent to the server, and as long as the delay is short enough we see it as almost instantaneous.

    Previous attempts to launch cloud gaming services such as OnLive have been met with failure as the average person's internet connection wasn't up to scratch and it was difficult to convince game publishers that they'd make money on the platform. This hasn't deterred companies, with Nvidia Shield, GeForce Now, Microsoft's XCloud service, and Blade's Shadow tech all doing essentially the same thing today.

    Tech giant Google launched its own cloud gaming service Stadia just over three months ago, and it got off to a very rocky start. Pre-orders of the founder's edition were delayed, many who got their physical founder's pack didn't get the code to activate their accounts for weeks, and some who paid to reserve their names didn't get to. The service was also critically panned at launch for poor visuals, promising 60 frames per second and 4k resolution but often delivering blurry upscaled graphics and lower frame rates than advertised.

    Early adopters of the tech who bought the Founder's Edition were given three months access to the Stadia Pro subscription. As that now comes to an end this week for many users, some are venting their frustrations that they'll lose access to games included with the subscription. Google put out an FAQ detailing the fact that users who let their subscriptions lapse will lose access to the games they've acquired through it, but will regain that access once their subscription starts again at a later date. 

    The main point of contention is with Destiny 2, a game that featured heavily in the marketing for the Stadia Founder's Edition. The base version of Destiny 2 is currently free on all other platforms, but Stadia only lets people play the Complete Collection edition on its Pro subscription. Users have expressed disappointment online with losing access to the game, and some are claiming that the launch marketing gave the impression that Destiny 2 was a perk for buying the founder's edition and they'd get to keep it.

    Source: Stadia FAQ, Reddit

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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