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Stadia head: Devs, publishers, and players aren't ready for a subscription-only platform

Stadia head Phil Harrison says that the decision to sell full price games alongside support for subscription services aims to give players and devs more choice.

"The industry is in transition. Not every developer and publisher is ready to move to subscription yet.”

- Stadia head Phil Harrison tells Eurogamer why Stadia didn't launch as the fabled 'Netflix for games' some had expected it to be.

Stadia’s business model remained shrouded in mystery for months after the cloud-based game platform was announced. Just last recently, Google finally announced that games would be sold at full price on the system as with any other physical game platform, though subscription based libraries like its own Stadia Pro or Ubisoft’s Uplay+ are being offered as well.

But even Stadia’s Pro subscription requires its subscribers to buy the bulk of the game they’ll play on Stadia; a “growing library” of titles is promised as part of that paid service (alongside other features), but only Destiny 2 has been announced so far.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Stadia head Phil Harrison says that the decision to offer both that traditional sales method alongside the potential for subscription services was about giving players a choice in how they pick up games, since he says many players, developers, and publishers aren’t ready for to make the jump to subscription services.

"The industry is in transition. Not every developer and publisher is ready to move to subscription yet,” Harrison tells Eurogamer. “Frankly, not every gamer is ready to move to subscription yet. So we wanted to give gamers a choice so they could engage in the games they wanted in the way they wanted - and in all cases, without the very high upfront cost of buying a sophisticated device to put under their TV or on their desk."

In the full interview, Harrison discusses how the industry is “already way past the physical digital tipping point” as more players turn to purchasing games digitally rather than physically.

The exact extent of ownership players have over their digital purchases can be a cause for concern with some, especially when that game is located only in a remote data center and never actually installed on a local device. Harrison tells Eurogamer that the value of paying full price for a cloud-based game on Stadia comes from the service’s core promise of being able to play it on nearly any available screen, and theoretically at “the highest possible quality.” The rest of that chat can be read in the full Eurogamer piece.

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