Roughly half a year after its initial launch, Google Stadia finally has a free option for folks who want to see what the company's cloud gaming service is all about.
Google Stadia is free to access, and you can access the service's premium Stadia Pro tier for free for two months for a limited time. Normally $10 per month, Stadia Pro provides access to a growing library of titles that includes Destiny 2, Grid and Thumper, and allows you to stream games at up to 4K resolution. If you're already paying for Stadia Pro, you won't be charged for your next two months of service.
Once you're signed up for Stadia, you can also purchase additional titles, such as Doom Eternal, Mortal Kombat 11 and Red Dead Redemption 2. Google plans on eventually releasing a free Stadia Base option with a 1080p streaming limit, but there isn't yet a release date for it.
The free Google Stadia trial was announced in a blog post by Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison, who notes that the trial is being released to help connect and entertain the increasing amount of people currently stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re facing some of the most challenging times in recent memory," wrote Harrison. "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."
Harrison also notes that Google is working on temporarily defaulting the default resolution for Stadia games from 4K to 1080p, due to the very large increase in people gaming at home and using internet bandwidth.
How to get Google Stadia for free
To get started with Stadia, go to the Google Stadia website to sign up via your Google account. You'll be charged if you keep your Stadia Pro subscription beyond the two-month period, but you can cancel your subscription at any time before then. Harrison noted that the free trial is rolling out "over the next 48 hours" as of April 8, so keep checking back if you don't see an option to try the service right away.
You can currently play Stadia on any PC, Mac or tablet that supports Google Chrome, and the service supports popular USB controllers including the DualShock 4 and Xbox Wireless Controller as well as keyboard and mouse. As far as mobile goes, Stadia currently supports Pixel 2 and newer, Samsung Galaxy S8 and newer, and all versions of the Asus ROG Phone and Razer phone.
Is Google Stadia worth it?
In our Google Stadia review, we were impressed by Stadia's overall steady streaming performance and compatibility with a variety of different screens. However, we found the service's launch lineup a bit lacking, and it's still lacking major features such as iOS compatibility. It doesn't help that Stadia access was previously restricted to those who purchased the $129 Premium Edition, which includes a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller and three months of Stadia Pro.
Fortunately, the Stadia Pro game lineup has grown since launch with titles like Grid and Steamworld Dig, and major AAA games such as Doom Eternal are now available on the service. And now that it's free for two months, there's no reason not to try it out.