It took a while, but Google is finally making it easier for people to check out Stadia. Starting today, people in 14 countries around the world will be able to sign up for two free months of Stadia Pro. The full list is as follows: the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
With the signup offer, you no longer need to buy one of Google’s hardware bundles to get access to the platform. Instead, all you need to do is visit the Stadia website, sign up and download the companion Android or iOS app — though you’ll need to provide a USB-compatible controller or keyboard and mouse. When you first launch the service, you’ll get access to nine games, one of which is Destiny 2. If you’re already a Stadia Pro subscriber, Google won’t charge you for the next two months.
After the trial period, Stadia’s Pro tier costs $10 per month. It allows you to play games in 4K (most of the time, anyway), and get discounts on games and DLC. You also get a handful of free titles every month. With the free tier, on the other hand, games max out at 1080p and you need to buy the titles you want to play.
Google’s Phil Harrison says the decision to give two months of Stadia Pro away for free comes in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. “We’re facing some of the most challenging times in recent memory. Keeping social distance is vital, but staying home for long periods can be difficult and feel isolating. Video games can be a valuable way to socialize with friends and family when you’re stuck at home,” he wrote on the company’s Keyword blog.
On that note, Google says it’s temporarily adjusting the default streaming resolution of games to 1080p, down from 4K, to limit the platform’s impact on internet networks. You can switch back to 4K streaming through the Stadia app.
Google’s new introductory offer is likely to make at least some people forget about Stadia’s sometimes disappointing launch. While not exactly a flop, Stadia didn’t launch with all the features Google promised when it detailed the service at GDC 2019. Fans have had to wait to do things like play their game library at 4K over the web, which had led to community dissent. But it’s hard to complain when you get something for free.