Google offers Stadia for free to anyone with a Gmail account

9 Apr 2020

The Stadia controller. Image: Google

The free Stadia Pro membership will provide users with access to nine games for the next two months.

On Wednesday (8 April), Google announced that premium access to its game streaming platform Stadia will be made free to gamers in 14 countries for the next two months.

After that, Stadia Pro will cost $9.99 per month and users can opt out at any time. The company also said that it will not charge existing Stadia Pro users for the next two months of their subscription.

Future Human

The offer is open to users with a Gmail account in Ireland, the UK, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Until today, Stadia was only available as part of a $129 Premiere Edition bundle that came with a controller. The platform was launched last November, and instead of having to buy physical games or download them from a digital store, Stadia users stream games over the internet.

What’s included in the deal?

Anyone who signs up to the offer will get instant access to nine games on the Stadia platform and the ability to purchase more games in the Stadia store.

The free games are Destiny 2: The Collection, Grid, Gylt, SteamWorld Dig 2, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, Serious Sam Collection, Spitlings, Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks), and Thumper.

Google said that any games purchased by users will remain theirs, even if they cancel their Stadia Pro subscription. At present, there are 38 games on the Stadia store. Early into the platform’s release, users expressed frustration about the lack of games available on the platform.

Users can play games through PC, Google Pixel phones, supported Android devices and Chrome OS tablets. To play on a television, users need a Chromecast Ultra, as the standard Chromecast is not compatible with Stadia.

Google’s Stadia controller can be purchased separately for $69, though a mouse and keyboard or supported USB controllers will also work.

Reducing data usage

Google said that online video games can serve as a valuable medium of socialising through these “challenging times”, in which people are home for long periods. The company added that it wants to take a responsible approach to encouraging game streaming as the demand on broadband networks is currently stretched.

Stadia vice-president and GM Phil Harrison said: “With increased demand due to more people working at home during this time, we’re taking a responsible approach to internet traffic.

“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.”

In a blogpost about the offer, Google said that its support team has been significantly impacted and that customer support functions “are not running at full capacity”. The company told users to get in touch with its automated help centre if they run into any problems.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic