Google Stadia pricing, launch details for 'Netflix of video games' expected

Google is expected to reveal more details about its Stadia video game streaming service on Thursday in an announcement that will provide a close look at a new entertainment medium that has attracted other tech giants and put pressure on traditional video game retailers.

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Stadia said it would provide details on how much the service will cost, which games will be available to play and other launch details during a live stream. At present, it’s unclear if Stadia will use a subscription model or other pay structure when it launches later this year.

“Some news can’t wait for E3,” Stadia said in a teaser message, in a reference to this month’s upcoming E3 gaming conference in California.

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At a debut event in March, Google said that Stadia would provide users with access to high-quality games without the need for a traditional video game console such as Microsoft’s Xbox One or Sony’s PlayStation 4. Executives said gamers can connect to Stadia in seconds through the Google Chrome internet browser to play on various devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Google is one of several leading tech firms developing video game streaming services. Amazon and Microsoft are each said to be building their own cloud-based platforms. Apple also unveiled its own video game service for its platforms this year, called Apple Arcade.

As more consumers rely on digital downloads rather than physical copies of video games, traditional retailers have struggled to maintain sales. In an ominous development, GameStop shares plunged more than 30 percent in trading on Thursday after the company said it would eliminate its dividend to offset a sag in revenue.

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GOOGLALPHABET INC.1,339.39+12.43+0.94%

While GameStop executives attributed the sales decline in part to a lack of new console releases from Sony or Microsoft, who have had their current hardware on the market for years. But the rise of streaming platforms could impact the video game industry in the same way that Netflix upended the video rental sector.

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“While GME said the dividend elimination would provide flexibility to drive value creation for shareholders and transform GME for the future, Apr-Q results and intensifying competition from Apple Arcade and Alphabet’s Stadia suggest it may be game over,” CFRA Research analyst Camilla Yanushevsky said in a note.