Google is offering Stadia Pro free for two months

An act of altruism or an effort to invigorate a flailing platform? Either way, it's free.

Google has announced it's letting people try its Stadia cloud-based gaming service free for two months to help encourage social distancing while also enabling people to digitally socialize with friends and family. The company is offering new Stadia users two free months of Stadia Pro, whereafter it'll cost the usual $9.99 a month. Existing Stadia Pro subscribers will get their next two months free, so if you were an early adopter, at least you're not getting screwed out of the freebie... though you might still be feeling bitter about the ridiculous phone holder.

The offer will rollout in the next 48 hours and is available in 14 countries. Newcomers to Stadia will need to sign up on the website, download the Stadia App for Android or iOS, and can then play nine games. The games on offer include Destiny 2: The Collection, GRID, and Thumper. Any additional games purchased from the Stadia store will still be playable even if you choose to cancel your Pro subscription at the end of the trial period.

Managing bandwidth — In an effort to reduce the burden on global internet infrastructure from the increased number of people online, Google's already reduced the default resolution on YouTube. It'll be doing the same with Stadia by setting the default to 1080p. As with YouTube, though, Stadia users can change the resolution to the maximum 4K if they want to via the app.

What you need to get started — Assuming you don't have a Stadia controller lying around, aside from an internet connection, you'll need a compatible Android phone, Chrome OS tablet, or a laptop or desktop computer. While you can play with a mouse and keyboard, you'll be in for a better time if you have a supported, HID-compliant, USB controller handy.

Stadia made some lofty promises of high-resolution, seamless gaming with a deep catalog when it launched last year. It's failed to deliver by most accounts, which seemed like a missed opportunity given its early move into the cloud-gaming space, one which continues to fill with rivals. That's seeming like even more of a squandered lead now with so many people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Perhaps a free trial will win the service more users, especially now that it's compatible with some non-Pixel Android devices. If nothing else, perhaps it will win Stadia some much-needed goodwill.