It can be very tempting to feel like Stadia has been a part of our general online existence for a long time at this point. Between the rumors, the beta tests, the announcement, and the eventual release, we’ve been talking about the whole thing for over a year now. Taking a step back, however, we’ve really only had Stadia available to us for gameplay for just under 5 months at this point. In terms of a new gaming platform, Stadia is still in its infancy.
We had hoped early on that the free tier of Stadia – Stadia Base – would arrive in early 2020. February had even been thrown around as an arrival time frame, but February came and went without so much as a peep concerning a free version of Stadia for the curious out there among us. Instead, the only real taste of Stadia Base we’d seen at this point was the ability to drop to the free tier if you were a Pro subscriber that chose to cancel your subscription. In that event, you still had access to Stadia and any games you purchased, but at the lower streaming resolution of 1080p. We tried this out with one of our accounts here at Chrome Unboxed and can verify that this has worked just as expected, but up until now that didn’t mean others could get in on the free fun. Instead, new users have had no option to start trying out Stadia for free just yet.
Now, that hurdle is removed. As of yesterday, Stadia Base is now open to the public and signing up is pretty simple. On top of a free-to-use gaming system, Google is also throwing in a free 2 month subscription to Stadia Pro when you sign up. This will give all the new users a little taste of Stadia’s abilities completely for free for 60 days. At that point, you are free to cancel Pro and just buy the games you’d like to play. At this point, however, the free games with Stadia Pro are pretty sweet, so I’m sure there will be quite a few who keep the $9.99/month subscription going after the trial.
How to get in on the action
First up, head over to Stadia.com and click either the ‘try now’ button to try the Pro subscription for 2 months or the ‘sign in’ button up top. Either way, you’ll need to sign in with your Google account. You’ll end up on this screen:
After that, assuming you don’t have a Buddy Pass, Pro Pass, Founders or Premiere Edition invite code (you won’t if you are a new user), just hit the Confirm button. Next, you’ll need to read through and accept the terms of service. Following that, you’ll need to pick an avatar, but this choice can be changed at any time in the future.
Your next step is important as choosing your unique Stadia gamer name will be yours and yours alone for the duration of your account. Unlike the avatar, this cannot be changed later on. Choose wisely. After this, you’ll need to parse through your privacy settings. I tend to set most of these to the ‘Friends & their Friends’ setting just so I don’t have to get bombarded by friend requests from random people. Regardless of your preference, you’ll need to set these up real quick before moving on and yes, they can be adjusted later. After this, you’ll be asked if you want emails and, after that step, you get to the important part.
Stadia is offering this completely free Pro trial with quite a few games on offer right now and a few more on the way. At the beginning of May and June there will likely be more games added, and those will all arrive inside your 2 month trial period. With the first dummy account I set up, I opted out of this and still can’t find a way to retroactively opt-in, so choose carefully. I’d recommend opting in and simply setting a reminder wherever you do so (shout to your nearest smart speaker real quick) to cancel your subscription two months out. If you really want a feel for Stadia, you need games to play and the free Pro subscription will get you quite a few right out of the gate. At this particular moment in April 2020, that means you’d immediately get to play the following:
- Destiny 2: The Collection
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
- Serious Sam Collection
- Stacks on Stacks (on Stacks)
That’s it! After this last step, you can log in at stadia.com on a computer, via the Stadia app on your supported Android phone, or with a Chromecast Ultra. If you don’t have any additional Stadia gear, you can use the keyboard and mouse to play all these games in the Chrome browser on any desktop device or plug in a 3rd party controller to your laptop or supported Android phone for controller-based gameplay. If you want to play on your TV via Chromecast, you’ll need the Chromecast and Stadia controller for that. Now, all we need is a few flagship games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and/or PUBG and it feels like the Stadia user base might finally start taking off.