Google‘s joining the legion of companies making it services free during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s offering free access to its controversial cloud gaming service Stadia to everyone, starting today.
To help people connect with friends online & have some fun during these challenging times, we’re opening up Stadia for everyone. You’ll also get 2 months of free access to Stadia Pro with some free games to play!
— Stadia (@GoogleStadia) April 8, 2020
More specifically, it’s offering two months of Stadia Pro for free, which includes instant access to nine games, including Destiny 2 and GRID. Phil Harrison, Stadia‘s VP, said in the company’s press release that the increased need for gaming prompted the company to extend the offer: “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, so we’re giving gamers in 14 countries free access to Stadia Pro for two months.”
This is the first time Stadia‘s been available to anyone besides those willing to shell out for the “Premiere” or “Founder’s” Editions and their bundled Chromecasts. Stadia‘s supposed to have a free tier coming out some time this year, but this offer is specifically free Stadia Pro for two months (you’ll be charged after the two month runs out if you choose not to cancel the trial). The platform has over 30 games, though those who access the trial will only have access to nine of them, and will have to buy the others. Harrison also added that, due to the anticipated increase in activity and the fact that Google‘s support team has been hamstrung by the pandemic, the company is “working toward a temporary feature that changes the default screen resolution from 4k to 1080p.”
Google‘s not the only organization that’s leaned into gaming as the ideal social experience during a time of social distancing. The World Health Organization — the same group that validated the concept of “gaming disorder” — has started an initiative called Play Apart Together, in which it and several gaming companies encourage people to use games to get their social interactions in without seeing their friends in person. We’ve seen multiple statistics that show people are gaming more than ever while stuck in lockdown. Consoles are becoming difficult to find — the Nintendo Switch in particular is sold out worldwide.
In order to get started on Stadia, go to the website and sign up — all you really need is a Gmail address. According to Harrison, the free Stadia Pro trial should roll out to gamers in 14 countries over the next two days.