Across all of the advertising for Google Stadia, the one game featured more than any other is Destiny 2: The Collection. We’ve now learned that Destiny 2 will continue to be a free game for future Stadia Pro members, but what does that mean for Stadia Base players, come February?

Since the first Stadia Connect, when Google properly took the wraps off the consumer side of their game streaming service, Bungie’s “space magic” MMO shooter Destiny 2 has been positioned as the flagship game for the service, and the first title that all Stadia Founders could play for free. Today, in a community update, the Google Stadia team has announced that Destiny 2: The Collection will be available to claim by Pro members for the “foreseeable future.”

Some players have asked about the availability window for Destiny 2 on the Stadia Pro subscription. Destiny 2 will remain available for the foreseeable future, but in the event that the availability is set to change, we will do our best to notify you all ahead of time.

This, of course, raises some interesting questions, the most obvious of which is “why?” To figure that out, let’s first take a brief look at the history of Destiny 2.

When Destiny 2 first launched on Xbox One and PS4 in 2017 (and later on PC), it was a full-price $60 game, followed up by two $20 DLCs and two larger $35-40 expansions. On the same day as the first Stadia Connect, Bungie announced that the base game of Destiny 2, along with the two smaller DLCs, would become free-to-play on all platforms, as part of “Destiny 2: New Light.”

Stadia Pro members have access to Destiny 2: The Collection, which includes everything in New Light, plus both the Forsaken and Shadowkeep expansions, along with Season Passes through summer 2020. Altogether, that would cost about $85, more than justifying its inclusion as a Stadia Pro free game.

But what will happen with Destiny 2 when Stadia Base launches next year? Unlike every other game in the Stadia Store, including the second free title for November Samurai ShodownDestiny 2: The Collection has no listed price.

From the phrasing of Destiny 2: The Collection being available to claim by new Pro subscribers “for the foreseeable future,” it seems plausible that the game could actually be a Stadia Pro exclusive, unavailable to free tier Stadia Base players.

The problem is that Google hasn’t outlined how Stadia will handle the growing genre of free-to-play games. Unlike other platforms, where your local hardware is doing most of the work of running the free game, a free-to-play game on Stadia costs Google money through things like electricity and the bandwidth to stream your video.

These lights don’t pay for themselves.

Economically, it doesn’t make sense for Google to give away Stadia servers for use by free-to-play games. Thus, making any and all free-to-play titles exclusive — with bonus, premium content — to Stadia Pro members would be a simple solution.

For Stadia’s first free-to-play game, Google is sweetening the deal by throwing in $85 worth of content, a model that would be excellent to see in other free-to-play games going forward. For example, a game like Apex Legends could include the latest Battle Pass when playing on Stadia Pro.

The other solution is for Google to charge upfront for the game, like every other game in the Stadia store. Of course, asking players to pay for an otherwise “free-to-play” game would not be a good look for the early days of Google Stadia. Destiny 2 could almost get away with this model, by offering “The Collection” as the paid entry point for Stadia Base players.

As an avid Destiny 2 player, I’m intrigued to see what Bungie and Google will be able to work out to ensure the game will have a strong playerbase on Stadia going forward.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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