Google's Stadia is finally ‘free' now, but the game-streaming service still comes with caveats

PCWorld|May 2020

Google's Stadia is finally ‘free' now, but the game-streaming service still comes with caveats
The quotation marks are doing a lot of heavy lifting in that headline.
HAYDEN DINGMAN

We reviewed Google Stadia in November (go.pcworld. com/gsrv), calling it “a glimpse of a future some other company will probably perfect.” The underlying tech? Solid. The platform and business model? Disastrous.

Not much has changed in the ensuing months, except now it’s free. Ish. Kind of. Google announced April 8 (go.pcworld. com/gann) that it’s no longer restricting Stadia to those who bought the $130 Founder’s Edition hardware kit (go.pcworld. com/130k). Anyone with a Gmail account can sign up.

It’s a good and necessary step (and doubly good with everyone stuck at home right now). One of Stadia’s biggest hurdles is the try-before-you-buy aspect. It’s hard to know how much the latency will annoy you, or whether your Internet connection is strong enough, or if any of a dozen other factors will matter, until you’ve spent some time with Stadia—so you might as well sign up if you’re interested.

You’ll receive two free months of Stadia Pro in return. Normally $10 a month, Stadia Pro gets you access to 4K streaming and a small library of games. At the moment that means Destiny 2, a handful of the SteamWorld games, Thumper, Stadiaexclusive Gylt, and a few others. You can sign up, get your two months of Stadia Pro, and play the dozen games on offer. If you don’t want it to auto-renew, you’ll need to disable it before June 8 or thereabouts.

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May 2020