Anyone expecting games to be cheaper via Google Stadia, the upcoming streaming platform, was sorely mistaken. Eurogamer reported yesterday that games sold via the platform will be priced the same as their counterparts on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the like.
Stadia chief Phil Harrison even told Eurogamer that "I don't know why it would be cheaper." He also said that Stadia makes games available on pretty much every device someone own (once it expands beyond the Chromecast Ultra, to which it's limited at launch) so paying full price for a title should actually offer more value than it would if it had been purchased on a different platform.
But pricing games (and other media) has been complicated ever since digital platforms rose to prominence. Should people have to pay the same price for a digital copy of a game that they would for a copy that was burned onto a disc, encased in a plastic shell, and shipped to retailers so it could sit on a shelf? It seems weird for a digital version of something to cost the same as a physical one.
Yet both copies have their own costs built in. Physical versions require a lot more work to produce, sure, but digital versions are often distributed via marketplaces whose operators take a sizable portion of the purchase for themselves. (Many have settled on 30% but some platforms, like the Epic Games Store, take a smaller cut.) Publishers are often getting just $42 when someone buys a $60 game.
This is the first we've seen of individual game prices on Stadia, on top of the $9.99 per month subscription fee with up to 4K streaming, HDR, 60 fps game play and surround sound, depending on your internet connection. The Stadia Founder's Edition, for $129, will come with a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro and a limited edition night blue controller.