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Google Details Stadia Ahead of Apple Arcade

By Evan Niu, CFA – Jun 6, 2019 at 4:23PM

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Which tech giant's gaming subscription service will come out on top?

Alphabet (GOOG -3.83%) (GOOGL -3.73%) subsidiary Google announced its game-streaming service Stadia back in March, but that announcement was short on some critical details. The search giant has just provided more specifics around the forthcoming service, which will compete with Apple's (AAPL -5.33%) own subscription game service, Apple Arcade. However, there will be several fundamental differences between Stadia and Apple Arcade.

Here's what investors need to know.

Stadia on multiple devices

Image source: Google.

How Stadia will work

Stadia Pro is launching in November and will cost $10 per month. The company is already selling a "Founder's Edition" hardware kit for $129 that comes with a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia Controller, a Stadia Name, and three months of the subscription. Each additional Stadia controller will cost $70 a pop.

Google says there will be also be a free tier called Stadia Base available in 2020. The service is cloud-based and content is streamed directly to a TV, Chrome browser, or supported Android device, removing the need to have a high-end gaming PC or console. Google's data centers will handle all of the heavy lifting with gameplay and graphics processing.

Importantly, Stadia is not using a Netflix-esque model as many people had anticipated. For the most part, users will still need to buy games at comparable retail prices as other platforms, although Google will add a small collection of free games in the Pro tier, with Destiny 2 being the only title included for free at launch.

 

Stadia Pro

Stadia Base

Resolution

Up to 4K

Up to 1080p

Frame rate

60 frames per second

60 frames per second

Sound

5.1 surround sound

Stereo

Free games

Yes

No

Discounts on purchases

Yes

No

Availability

November

2020

Data source: Google.

Google showcased numerous high-profile developers that are on board for the launch.

Stadia vs. Apple Arcade

In contrast, Apple is very much looking to use a Netflix-esque model where Apple Arcade subscribers will get access to a large catalog of games (over 100 titles at launch) that can be played on any of its platforms. Apple Arcade titles can be downloaded and played offline, unlike Stadia titles, which will require online connectivity to stream. Stadia players will need pretty strong internet connections that can handle the bandwidth of streaming 4K content with surround sound at 60 frames per second (Google recommends 35 Mbps for the best experience).

Apple Arcade on multiple devices

Image source: Apple.

The popularity of free games seems to have been a driving motivation for the Mac maker, which has implied that development of premium paid titles has suffered because it's difficult to compete with free. Apple is helping fund the development costs of included games, and has reportedly allocated $500 million for the initiative. New games will be regularly added to the catalog. Apple Arcade is launching at some point this fall and the company has not disclosed pricing, but the service is expected to cost $10 to $15 per month.

Google and Apple are both jumping into subscription gaming, but their services look very different.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple and NFLX. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, and NFLX. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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