In order to help aid the effort to keep people safe by making sure they stay at home, Google has opened up its Stadia game streaming service to everyone for free.
Gamers in Stadia-eligible countries — the USA, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Canada — will have two free months of access to the Stadia Pro service. Those who have already subscribed to Stadia Pro will find the usual monthly cost of $9.99 (£8.99/€9.90) deducted from their bill.
If you sign up for your two free months, you get access to nine games, which includes racing title GRID. There’s further titles available in the Stadia store, with The Crew 2, Supercross 3, Trials Rising, and even Farming Simulator 19 for those who like internal combustion. Any game you buy will be yours to keep even if you don’t renew your subscription.
Of course streaming is pretty data intensive, and that’s not necessarily a good thing right now. Both Sony and Microsoft have warned about the effects of so many people at home playing games, and are monitoring their network performance. Google Stadia, like Netflix, will take similar measures and lower image quality — from 4K to 1080p HD by default — during the current situation.
Although you can play Stadia via a dedicated controller and a Chromecast Ultra, you don’t actually need to buy either to take advantage of free Stadia Pro. Once signed up you can download the Stadia app on Android or Apple device, or play on your desktop device (or laptop, notebook, or Chromebook) with a USB controller, or mouse and keyboard.
Google will start to roll out the free, two-month Stadia Pro subscription over the next couple of days.