Well, that was fast. Google has made Stadia free for the next two months. No charges—just a handful of games, including Destiny 2, absolutely free to anyone with a Gmail account and a supported web browser or phone.
Editor’s Note: Google Stadia is not currently available in Australia.
Technically, Stadia has been kind of free up until this point. Anyone can download the Stadia app or log on at Stadia.com, buy a game for $US10 ($16) to $US60 ($97) and start playing that game at 1080p resolution. But the good version of Stadia, Stadia Pro, is $US10 ($16) a month. Stadia Pro gets you lots of games (no purchase necessary), 5.1 surround sound, and up to 4K resolution.
Stadia Pro is the version you want if you’re shy about investing in a gaming ecosystem that could evaporate like so many Google projects before it. It’s also the version you want if you really value higher-quality streams.
In a press release, Google cited the current need for everyone to stay indoors for public health as the reason behind its decision to make Stadia free for the next two months. It also noted that anyone currently paying for Stadia Pro will get the next two months free.
Stadia has had a sluggish start, with poor performance early on, and reports of latency issues. At launch, the Stadia controller was required to play, and the service only worked via the browser, on select Pixel phones, and with the Chromecast Ultra.
Google has since expanded support to a larger selection of phones and made it possible to play with any controller connected to a phone or computer via Bluetooth. With a handful of games, including Destiny 2, Grid, and Thumper, now free to play, now is the time to check out the video game streaming service that Microsoft is actually worried about competing against.
But one important note: You’ll still need good internet to fully take advantage of Stadia. Google says that Stadia will launch at 1080p quality and you’ll have to manually adjust the settings to get 4K. A number of counties have started throttling streaming services as everyone hunkers down at home and saturates the internet pipes. Heck, Google even lowered quality on the much more popular YouTube to better handle the increased load of worldwide internet traffic.
So if you have a Gmail account and a controller (and live in a country where Stadia is available), feel free to enjoy some free games. But don’t be surprised if they stutter when everyone else in your neighbourhood hops onto a Zoom happy hour.