Google (finally) launches Stadia’s free version

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Google's Stadia launches today and is ready to impress with 22 games.
Image: Google

After a rocky launch period, Google’s cloud-based gaming service, Stadia, is finally starting to gain some traction. The necessity of buying one of the hardware bundles sold around Stadia’s launch kept many prospective players from trying it out. Now, that problem is fixed.

On Wednesday, Google announced that Stadia’s free tier is finally open for players in 14 countries around the world—including the U.S. Anyone with a Gmail address can sign up for Stadia and will only need a USB controller and an Internet connection to play. Moreover, those who sign up will also get a free two-month trial of Stadia Pro.

Free at Last

It’s been nearly five months since Google launched its cloud-based gaming platform. In that time, Stadia has seen its share of ups and downs.

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Earlier this year, Google announced that the service would get a highly awaited free tier. This allows just about anyone to access award-winning titles that can be played on a laptop or smartphone. Since Stadia handles everything in the cloud, players don’t have to wait for massive game downloads or worry about needing powerful hardware. The only thing that’s necessary is a decent Wi-Fi connection and a USB-enabled controller.

Those who sign up for Stadia will get two months of Stadia Pro free of charge. This will grant them instant access to nine games (also for free) including “Destiny 2: The Collection” and “GRID.” Those who need something to do while social distancing should certainly check out Stadia as these two games alone can fill up hours of time.

Users can also purchase games that will remain theirs forever even if they cancel their Stadia Pro trial. Stadia now supports a wide variety of titles, including hits like “Doom Eternal,” “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” “NBA 2K20,” “Mortal Kombat 11,” “Red Dead Redemption II,” “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” and more.

It’s worth noting that those who already subscribe to a Stadia Pro plan will benefit as well. Google won’t charge players for the next two months regardless of their current subscription status. That’s a nice touch for those looking to escape into video games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Popularity Boost

Now that Google has unleashed Stadia’s free version, the cloud gaming service can finally start reaching its potential—hopefully. Without the need for special hardware, Stadia now represents what cloud-based gaming is all about.

With millions of people sitting at home, the timing couldn’t be better. Even so, it remains to be seen if this will give Stadia enough of a boost to finally catch on in the mainstream.

The Xbox Series X and PS5 are quickly nearing their launch dates, which means that Stadia will have a stiff challenge ahead of it. If Google hopes to compete in the gaming world, this is a critical time for Stadia.

The free tier should draw in some curious players in need of something to do. If Stadia is able to perform well, it could easily retain them. With nothing to lose, Google’s cloud-based gaming service is certainly worth a try.

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