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Google Stepping Up Digital Presence With Ambitious Gaming Service

Almost three months ago, Google made its first ambitious push into the multi-billion-dollar video game industry with the unveiling of Google Stadia – a Netflix-like gaming service that streams games from a variety of devices.

Google Stadia is not a game console or a gaming platform – instead, it’s a digital storefront run by Google where users can purchase individual games.

As it currently stands, in order to access that storefront, consumers will have to pay US $130 for the Stadia ‘premiere edition’ – again, similar to Netflix’s payment scheme.

But that purchase comes with a Stadia gamepad, a Chromecast Ultra streaming device and three months of access to Stadia Pro – a monthly subscription service that each month provides free games, enabling users to stream at ultra-HD 4K resolution.

In simple terms: consumers have to pay US $130 to access Stadia games since its launch last November.

But that’s about to change.

‘Over the next few months, anyone in our 14 launch countries will be able to access Stadia for free,’ Google representative Patrick Seybold told Business Insider.

The 14 countries Seybold mentions include Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. Stadia has stated on their official website that the Australian launch has not yet been announced.

The news of Stadia’s free tier gaming service going live within the coming months, first reported by Protocol on Wednesday, is the first major news from Stadia since its launch late last year.

But it can’t come soon enough – some of Stadia’s early adopters have already criticised the platform for not delivering on announced promises the company made when the service was first announced. Stadia fans have also criticised Google for a lack of communication over the future direction.

Notable features still missing from the service is the ability to play Stadia on the majority of smartphones, including Apple devices and non-Google Android smartphones.

But Google establishing the free ‘base’ tier of Stadia is an important improvement for Google’s lacking service.

The company is also promising a bigger and better 2020 – with over 120 games scheduled to launch within the year, over 10 of which are reportedly set to be Stadia exclusives.

Yet it still remains unclear if and when Stadia will support Apple devices – a major smartphone rival for Google.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

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