Google has confirmed that the free ‘Base’ tier of its Stadia game streaming service will arrive sometime “over the next few months.”
Google vice president and Stadia product manager Phil Harrison mentioned the release window in a recent interview with new tech publication Protocol.
“No money down, without having to put a box in your home, you can just click and play amazing games straight from our data centre” explained Harrison.
Of course, “the next few months” is rather vague, so it’s still mostly unclear when to expect Stadia Base.
Nonetheless, the free service tier is something that many consumers have been waiting for. When Stadia launched in November, Google promised that Base would come sometime in 2020. However, that hasn’t made it any easier for anyone who’s interested in the service to actually try it out.
That’s because there are currently only two ways to get into Stadia, and both require a large investment. The main way is by purchasing the Premiere Edition, which costs $169.99 CAD and includes a Chromecast Ultra, Stadia Controller and a three-month Stadia Pro subscription. Alternatively, those who managed to get the Founders Edition before it sold would have been given a Buddy Pass to gift three months of Stadia Pro to a friend.
Even then, while Stadia Pro offers a couple of free games per month, the majority of titles still need to be purchased individually before they can be streamed. Moreover, the three month Stadia Pro subscriptions will end in just a few weeks, meaning you’ll need to renew for $11.99/month to continue streaming. Stadia Base will offset the need for the Premiere Edition and a Stadia Pro subscription by letting you simply buy games individually and stream them, although 4K/60fps streams will remain exclusive to Stadia Pro.
Outside of entry cost, though, Stadia has also been heavily criticized for a lack of games and features. At launch, the service only had 22 games — all but one of which were available on other platforms. While a few more titles have been added since, it’s not a very large lineup. The service is also still lacking several promised features, including 4K gaming on the web, wireless gameplay on the web with the Stadia controller and Android support beyond the Pixel.
Stadia is about to face even greater competition from Microsoft’s Project xCloud. The Xbox-branded game streaming service is currently in public preview in Canada and several other countries ahead of a planned official launch later this year. Notably, this preview is free and offers more than 80 games, making it far more accessible and enticing to jump into.
For its part, Google has mostly been quiet about its plans for Stadia this year. In January, the company said “more than 120 games” are coming to the platform in 2020, with “more than 10” of them being Stadia timed exclusives when they launch. The company says more will be revealed about these titles “soon.”