Google’s Stadia game streaming platform still isn’t ready to blow away the game industry. But with hundreds of millions of people stuck in their homes, it might be the perfect time to check it out anyway. Capitalizing on a captive audience, Google announced that the free tier of the service is now available to anyone with a Gmail address.
Stadia’s free tier works just like the $10-a-month Pro service, with access on Windows, MacOS, Chromebooks, the Chromecast Ultra streaming gadget, and select Android-powered phones. It just restricts the streaming quality to 1080p and omits the free selection of games that Pro members get. But if you’re hoping to try out either of those features, you can: Google is giving all new users two months of the Stadia Pro tier for free.
You can sign up for a new account at Stadia.com, though it may take up to 48 hours for all Google users in supported countries to have access. That rolling selection of freebies is nine games at the moment, which Google says includes GRID, Destiny 2, and Thumper.
If you’ve already bought Stadia and you’re paying for Pro, Google isn’t going to charge you for the next two months, either. That’s a pretty sweet inclusion. There is a downside to all of this: with the influx of new users, Google says it’s going to have to more aggressively prioritize access, with more than the usual number of users being downgraded to 1080p quality at times.
Stadia still hasn’t solved its primary problem, a comparatively tiny selection of games. But it’s improving things in terms of both game selection and user features. We’ll see how it competes with existing services like GeForce NOW as Microsoft and Sony ramp up their streaming offerings on the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles later this year.