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Google Stadia's getting publisher subscriptions on top of Stadia Pro

Big publishers could have their own Stadia subscriptions, says Phil Harrison

Google may have already done their big Stadia games and price reveal earlier this week, but Stadia top man Phil Harrison has just let slip another interesting nugget of info regarding Stadia's subscription structure. Speaking to Geoff Keighley during YouTube's E3 Live show this evening, Harrison said we'll also be seeing publisher-specific subscriptions making their way to the service in addition to their already-announced Stadia Pro subscription.

It's not entirely clear what form these potential publisher subscriptions will take just yet - it was only mentioned very briefly during Harrison's chat with Keighley - but according to Harrison, they'll live on top of the existing Stadia Pro subscription, something that Keighley likened to buying HBO on top of an existing cable TV package.

"You'll also see in due course, in relatively short order from now, you'll see publishers starting to think about their own subscriptions," said Harrison. "We support that on our platform, and we'll see some announcements in due course around that."

He continued: "I don't think that will be for every publisher, but I think for some of the publishers who have bigger catalogues and more significant line-ups..." Keighley unfortunately interrupted Harrison with another question at the end there, but the message seems clear. If there's a big publisher throwing their weight behind Stadia, they're probably going to have their own subscription available.

At the moment, given what we know about Stadia's launch game line-up, the publishers with the largest number of games on that list are Ubisoft, Bethesda and Square Enix. Everyone else has only committed one title to Stadia so far, whereas Ubisoft have got six queued up, Bethesda have five, and Square Enix have four, so out of all the publishers currently jostling behind Stadia's pearly gates up in the sky, those three seem most likely fits for potential publisher subscriptions.

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that Google's Stadia Pro subscription, which lets you stream at 4K in HDR and 5.1 surround sound, only gets you a PS Plus-like library of free games rather than everything being free. But if I could potentially subscribe to, say, all Square Enix games for a flat fee every month, I think that would make Stadia a lot more appealing - especially if, for example, it meant I could also play all of that publisher's smaller curios (I'm thinking all those Square Enix Collective-published games for Squeenix, or Ubi's Child of Lights and Valiant Hearts type games), as well their bigger blockbusters.

Plus, while less attractive for us PC peeps who don't already have to pay extra for the online component of things like The Division 2, a monthly publisher subscription that also took care of all those multiplayer nonsense fees people playing on consoles have to put up with (your PS Plus, Xbox Live and Nintendo Switch Online gubbins) would also be a big plus in drawing people in to playing on Stadia, I think - especially if it also got you access to things like season passes and big expansions without having to buy everything separately.

Of course, I'm just spit-balling here based on what came out of Harrison's mouth in those three and a half short sentences. But after the relative disappointment of Stadia's Pro subscription, this has definitely piqued my interest again. Of course, once more, we're left with more questions than answers here, but hopefully we won't have to wait too long before we find out more.

See our E3 2019 tag for more news, previews, opinions, and increasingly surreal liveblogs.

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About the Author
Katharine Castle avatar

Katharine Castle


Katharine is RPS' editor-in-chief, which means she's now to blame for all this. After joining the team in 2017, she spent four years in the RPS hardware mines. Now she leads the RPS editorial team and plays pretty much anything she can get her hands on. She's very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests, but also loves strategy and turn-based tactics games and will never say no to a good Metroidvania.