Round 1, Fight: Google Stadia Confronts Apple Arcade
It's obvious even for the skeptics now: 2019 will usher in the epoch of cloud gaming. In fact, the whole new segment is so promising that used-to-be rivals Sony and Microsoft buried the hatchet of war, at least temporarily, to launch their own service — XCloud. Other tech-giants don't want to miss a slice of that money pie: Amazon, Google, and Apple have entered the cloud race as well.
Player 1 — Google Stadia
Premier: 2019, November
Price: From $9.99 to $130
By far, Stadia seems to be the most finished project in comparison to others. We know that the service will be premiered this fall, in November. The exact date is yet to be provided. It will stream games on demand from the company's servers in 1080p resolution. Allegedly, the title repertoire will be huge, but not overly extensive. It includes such popular games as:
- Trials Rising;
- Doom (2016);
- Metro Exodus;
- Samurai Showdown;
- The Elder Scrolls Online;
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey;
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid;
- Bandai Namco: Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.
More games will be added later, as Google has promised. As we have heard, EA and Rockstar are interested in signing a partnership deal.
As for the pricing, Stadia will be available in three packages. Stadia Pro is the main course. It will cost $9.99 monthly. The offer includes 4k resolution, 60fps, and unlimited access to all the games listed in the catalog. Stadia Base will begin working in 2020. Reportedly, games can be streamed on any Chrome gadget with 1080p and 60fps. Price isn't specified yet. For $129.99 you can get Founders Package. You will get an exclusive Night Blue controller, Stadia Pro subscription for 3 months, Buddy Pass as a present to your friend, Chromecast Ultra with 4k definition and also a privilege to be the first to reserve a nickname you want.
Stadia will be accessible on any PC via Chrome browser, Chromecast Ultra, Pixel3/3A, and other smartphones later. To control them, you can use your own gamepad or pre-order a Stadia controller. It has two unique buttons, with one allowing instant save/upload of your game to YouTube and the other to seek gameplay advice from Google Assistant.
Player 2 — Apple Arcade
Premier: 2019, no exact date
Loyal to its traditions, Apple intends to make Arcade available for the brand adepts only. The list of devices, compatible with Arcade, includes:
- Apple TV;
- MacOS laptops.
It is highly doubtful that the service will ever migrate to other platforms. It is suspected that Apple, to compensate for such a semi-authoritarian approach, will provide certain incentives. For example, earnable bonuses that can be spent on Apple Music, AppStore, etc.
No exact deadline has been specified yet. Although during WWDC 2019 it's been mentioned that Arcade will be launched this year. Perhaps Apple intends to monitor Stadia's performance during its first days and learn from the rival's mistakes. Both marketing and technological.
No details are known about Arcade's game roster either. All we know that all the titles will be exclusively tied to the service. Which probably means that no blockbusters — like Far Cry 5, GTA 5, RDR 2, Devil May Cry 5, Doom 2016 or TES V: Skyrim will be available. Though no games have been named, it's been confirmed that Apple has commissioned a few well-known studios:
- Klei Entertainment;
- Cartoon Network;
- Giant Squid.
All in all, they promise 100 exclusive 'vidya' titles. A sneak pic at some of these can be taken in the promo. As for the pricing policy, Arcade will provide games on demand for a subscription fee. Additionally, there'll be no extra IAPs. The family can share one account as well — up to six family members may play for the same money. But to make it happen, the same bank card must be linked to their Apple IDs.
Player 3 — You
With all the known details, the whole Stadia vs. Arcade situation feels tricky. On the one hand, we have a service that offers a variety of mainstream titles at an affordable price, has a specific launch date and isn't exclusively tied to a certain platform. Not to mention the bonuses Stadia promises to give to all the Founders.
On the other, Apple Arcade has a whole armada of unique games to drum up our interest and laconic pricing policy. As always, it's up to you to decide which faction to join. But so far, Stadia seems to be the only option since it's the only soon-to-premier project.
In the long run, It doesn't matter if it's Stadia or Arcade. Or even XCloud. What really matters is that with the cloud-powered gaming, we have a chance to stop throwing piles of dollars every 1.5 years on the computer hardware upgrades to enjoy another bombastic AAA title.