Google provides two-months access to Stadia Pro as gamers stay at home during lockdown
Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday it would give two months of free access to the paid version of its cloud-based game streaming platform Stadia as people are confined to their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Users can access Stadia by downloading the app on their iOS or Android phones or by signing up on its website.
The company said its offer was open to users in 14 countries, starting Wednesday, and would be rolled out over the next 48 hours.
The paid version, Stadia Pro, otherwise costs $9.99 a month and offers access to games such as "GRID" and "Destiny 2: The Collection" in 4K resolution.
"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 company said in a blog post.
Google's Stadia, launched in November, is expected to compete with Microsoft Corp's upcoming Project xCloud.
Google is offering the 4K version as part of its premium service, Stadia Pro, priced at $9.99 per month. The free high-definition version is expected to roll out next year.
Stadia will need at least 10Mbps internet speed for the base 720p resolution and 35Mbps to stream games in 4K. Early reviews of Stadia have complained of latency, the time delay between pressing a button and getting the reaction on screen.
The success of cloud gaming depends heavily on the underlying network and how much controlled-latency traffic it can support during periods of peak demand, said Steve Alexander, chief technology officer at Ciena Corp, a telecom equipment maker.
Analysts are also pinning the success of Stadia on the content it offers as most of the games on the platform are already available on consoles.
“Stadia will live or die by its content,” said George Jijiashvili, senior analyst at Ovum, a brokerage firm, adding that underwhelming number of launch titles was making it difficult to generate real excitement.
Sony also offers a game streaming platform PlayStation Now at $9.99 per month that includes over 800 games across its console titles.
Google is billing Stadia for non-gamers, but it will need to work out some kinks to make it more attractive than a console or a personal computer, Chaim Seigel, an analyst with Elazar Advisors, said.