Google had some good news to share with Stadia streaming’s early adopters yesterday: their $10/month Stadia Pro subscription will grant access to two new titles—Farming Simulator 19: Platinum Edition and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition—starting next month.
That didn’t come as welcome news to all Stadia owners, though, because those games had already been on sale as Stadia launch titles for the week leading up to the announcement. That means a fair number of Stadia Pro subscribers had spent $49.99 (for Farming Simulator) or $9.99 (for Tomb Raider) on games that would be free in less than two weeks’ time.
Google, to its credit, has not ignored these players. “Because of the proximity between the launch of the platform, and the announcement of these titles in Stadia Pro, we’re happy to assist you if you’d like to request a refund if you have purchased either or both of these titles, even if it’s outside of our normal policy,” a Google community manager wrote yesterday afternoon.
The new Stadia Pro freebies come on top of Destiny 2 and Samurai Shodown, which were offered to pre-order customers who subscribed to Stadia Pro in November. Those games will be accessible for those subscribers as long as they maintain their Stadia Pro subscription. Games purchased directly on the Stadia Store will not require a continuing Pro subscription to keep (even if they are purchased with a Pro discount). Of course, a Stadia Pro subscription is currently the only way to access Stadia, so that issue is kind of moot until Google launches its planned free tier next year.
The addition of two new Stadia Pro freebies is a welcome sign for Google’s nascent gaming service. Before now, Google was only able to confirm that new Stadia Pro titles would be coming at a “regular cadence” going forward. The current rate of two free games per month would put Stadia Pro on par with PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, both of which charge $60 a year for two free monthly titles and other benefits (including online gameplay).
That said, there are only 22 games currently in the Stadia Pro library, with four more announced for the rest of the year. Adding two free games a month would quickly exhaust that initial lineup, and the 14 titles for a 2020 Stadia release so far would only pad things out a bit (especially since brand-new releases seem unlikely candidates for Stadia Pro freebies).
The initial dearth of Stadia titles isn’t out of the ordinary for newly launched game platforms, and Google no doubt has more publisher partnerships and Stadia game announcements in the works (including planned Stadia-exclusive games from its own internal studios). But recent examples like the Wii U show that major game makers can quickly abandon a platform if players don’t show much inherent post-launch demand to be playing there. If more than 4,000 developers actually expressed interest in developing for Stadia, as Google claimed back in July, then Google would be wise to use them to expand the service’s library quickly in the coming months.
Listing image by Kyle Orland