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Google rolls out free Stadia, offers Pro for two months

Google has launched a free version of its Stadia game streaming service, Google Stadia.

The tech giant is also offering a free two-month trial of its Stadia Pro premium service which includes access to nine premium games like Destiny 2: The Collection and Thumper and an improved 4K resolution. Existing Pro subscribers will get the next two months for free.

The typical service is limited to 1080p resolution, 60fps, and stereo sound. It is available for free to anybody with a gmail account, though any games must be bought through Stadia to be played.

The move to widely launch such a bandwidth-intensive service may raise some eyebrows, particularly as streamers such as Netflix have decided to curb their usage.

However in a blog post announcing the move, Phil Harrison, vice president and GM of Google Stadia, said that Google is cautious with its usage.

He wrote: “With increased demand due to more people at home during this time, we’re taking a responsible approach to internet traffic. For Stadia, we’ve always adjusted bandwidth use based on a variety of in-home and local internet factors.

“To reduce load on the internet further, we’re working toward a temporary feature that changes the default screen resolution from 4k to 1080p. The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop won’t notice a significant drop in gameplay quality, but you can choose your data usage options in the Stadia app.”

The service has to date been met with a mixed response, with initial reports of poor performance and a lack of compatibility. Critics have also cited Google’s historic tendency to drop support for once-promising products and services as reason not to become invested in Stadia, particularly as users are only able to buy games through Stadia. By contrast, a service like Nvidia’s GeForce Now lets users play games bought through other sources like Steam and Epic.