Google’s video game streaming platform, Stadia, is now free to anyone with a Gmail address, the company announced on Wednesday. To sweeten the deal, Google is also giving new users two months of Stadia Pro — including access to nine games — for free.
Existing Stadia Pro subscribers won’t be charged for the next two months of the service, Google said.
Previously, access to Stadia required purchasing the $129 Google Stadia Premiere Edition, a bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, a wireless Stadia Controller, and three months of Stadia Pro, the service that offered free games and video streams up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second with HDR lighting.
As of April 8, access to the base-level version of Stadia — games stream at a maximum resolution of 1080p — will be free by signing up at the Stadia website. Users still have to purchase games to own them, but those games can be played on a PC, Chrome OS tablet, Google Pixel phone, and other supported Android devices. A Stadia Controller (which can be purchased separately for $69) is not required; users can also play with a supported USB controller or mouse and keyboard.
The two free months of Stadia Pro will give users access to the following games, as of April:
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
- Serious Sam Collection
- Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
After the two-month trial period, Stadia Pro will cost $9.99 per month. Subscribers can cancel their subscriptions online, if they choose to do so.
Google is also making a change to Stadia Pro’s default streaming resolution in an effort to manage bandwidth, similar to efforts from Netflix, Disney, and Sony Interactive Entertainment, according to Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison.
“With increased demand due to more people at home during this time, we’re taking a responsible approach to internet traffic,” Harrison said on the Stadia blog. “For Stadia, we’ve always adjusted bandwidth use based on a variety of in-home and local internet factors. To reduce load on the internet further, we’re working toward a temporary feature that changes the default screen resolution from 4k to 1080p. The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop won’t notice a significant drop in gameplay quality, but you can choose your data usage options in the Stadia app.”
Google Stadia launched in November and is currently available in 14 countries. The platform boasts 38 games available to purchase, and Google said it is “tracking more than 120 games coming to Stadia in 2020,” with 10 of those being exclusive to Stadia.