GAMERS across the globe can play Google Stadia for free for the next two months.
Stadia is the Xbox and PlayStation "killer" that lets you play games with no console – by streaming the visuals over the internet, like Netflix.
It launched back in November to generally positive reception.
Stadia processes game visuals at big data centres, so you can play games with high-end graphics on almost any device – including smartphones, or web browsers on a laptop.
On Wednesday, Google announced that it's now offering free access to Stadia to everyone.
"To help people connect with friends online & have some fun during these challenging times, we're opening up Stadia for everyone," Google said.
"You'll also get two months of free access to Stadia Pro with some free games to play!"
Anyone who signs up will get two free months of its paid tier, Stadia Pro, with instant access to nine games, including GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper.
How to get free Google Stadia
If you’re new, playing on Stadia is simple:
- Go to Stadia.com to sign up
- Download the Stadia app on Android or iOS
- Play on your laptop, desktop or Chrome OS tablet with your favourite (HID compliant) USB supported controller or mouse and keyboard
- Play over Wi-Fi on Pixel or many supported Android phones
- After the two months is up, you'll be charged $9.99 a month for Stadia Pro
- However, you can cancel your subscription at any time by following this link
What is Google Stadia?
Google Stadia is a game streaming service that lets you play console-level titles on smartphones and laptops.
Normally, a games console renders graphics on the machine – requiring powerful and expensive hardware.
Stadia renders the graphics on a Google computer and sends them to you over the internet, a bit like Netflix.
It means you can play games on really rubbish devices, including smartphones or the Google Chrome web browser.
The service costs £119, and includes a Chromecast Ultra and three months of access to Stadia Pro’s free library of games.
You can also buy additional games from the Stadia store.
A free tier called Stadia Base will be added in the coming months, which lets you buy your own games to play at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second.
How does Google Stadia work and what do I need to play it?
To play Google Stadia on your telly, all you need is a Google Chromecast Ultra device and Google Stadia controller.
Simply plug the Chromecast into your TV and away you go.
On a PC or mobile, you need the controller and the Google Chrome web browser.
Google initially restricted mobile usage to its Pixel smartphone range, but has now opened it up to other smartphone-makers such as Samsung.
The Stadia controller directly connects to the remote computer running your game rather than to whatever device you’re streaming on.
Google says this reduces streaming’s main problem – latency.
Latency is the time lag between you pressing a button on the controller or keyboard and seeing the corresponding action on the screen in front of you.
If this isn’t near-instantaneous, games become unplayable very quickly indeed, like watching telly with the sound slightly out of sync with the video.
Early demos have been promising, with testers reporting no noticeable lag whatsoever.
You need a 10 megabytes per second (Mbps) broadband connection to play games in 720p HD quality with stereo sound.
That jumps to 35Mbps if you want to play them in 4K with 5.1 surround sound.
Google Stadia supported devices – here are the smartphones you can play on
The Stadia app works on a range of mobiles.
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
- Samsung Galaxy S10
- Samsung Galaxy S10E
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Razer Phone
- Razer Phone 2
- Asus ROG Phone
- Asus ROG Phone II
- Google Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel 3
- Google Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a
- Google Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4
It’s worth remembering that Google plans to add even more devices to this list over time, so don’t be too disappointed if your mobile isn’t on there yet.
Video game streaming – how does it work?
We explain it all…
- When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
- That's why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
- But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you'll do next
- That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
- So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you'll need to fork out for an expensive computer
- Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
- The idea is that a company like Google, Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
- Then it would send what's effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
- You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
- Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
- The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it's not the phone itself rendering the graphics
- It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
- This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you'd need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
- But game streaming hasn't had any great successes thus far
- Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
- And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
- The next major service expected to launch is Google Stadia, which many are hopeful will be a success
Google Stadia games
Here are the games you can play on Stadia.
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle
- Borderlands 3
- Darksiders Genesis
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE 2
- DOOM Eternal
- Farming Simulator 19
- FINAL FANTASY XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Ghost Recon Breakpoint
- Just Dance 2020
- Metro Exodus
- Monster Energy Supercross
- Mortal Kombat 11
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration
- SAMURAI SHODOWN
- Serious Sam Collection
- SteamWorld Dig
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- SteamWorld Heist
- SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamesh
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
- Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
- Tom Clancy's The Division 2
- The Crew 2
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
In other news, the PS5 and Xbox Series X could cost a hefty £500 at launch.
Sony has already sent the official PS5 website live.
And both new consoles are expected to have thousands of games ready at launch.
Are you tempted by Google's offer? Let us know in the comments!
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