Since Stadia’s launch in November, there have only been a few ways to get involved and start using the service. For the earliest adopters out there, the Founders Edition was the way in, giving those who signed up a Chromecast Ultra, a limited-run Stadia controller, and 3 free months of Stadia Pro (along with the ability to pick your gamer name and snag the one you wanted early on). This was a $129 bundle that is no longer available.
Shortly after, it was replaced by the Premier Edition, which bundled the same stuff without the custom, navy-colored controller. Aside from those two methods, there’s really only been one other outlet to try out Stadia, and that has been the coveted Buddy Passes that both Founders and Premiere Edition users were gifted with upon signing up. Stadia even went further to give each of those user bases an addition Buddy Pass to hand out in late December 2019. Apart from these methods, however, no one else can get in.
And, honestly, that’s been a big bummer. With Stadia being able to be played in so many ways (phone, laptop, Chromecast on your TV) and with such a wide variance of hardware (keyboard/mouse, PS4, XBOX, Switch controllers, other 3rd-part controllers, and even on-screen buttons) there doesn’t seem to be a need to enforce potential players to buy Google’s own hardware in order to give the game streaming service a chance. Wouldn’t it be better to just let interested players sign up, pay for the Pro membership, and get playing?
Well, that reality is one step closer today. In a statement to The Verge, it has been confirmed that Google is now offering 3 months of free Stadia Pro to those who purchase a Chromecast Ultra. Sure, this isn’t quite as simple as going to stadia.com, signing up and playing on your laptop, but it is getting closer. Allowing users to simply buy a Chromecast and get 3 months of Stadia Pro for free could help adoption expand a bit.
I still think this is a baby step, however, because if you buy the Chromecast Ultra to get those 3 months of Stadia Pro, you’ll need to buy a Stadia controller as other controllers work fine on phones and laptops, but only the Stadia controller will work with the Chromecast method on your TV. I think Google needs to move past all these promos and giveaways and simply let users sign up for Stadia, give them a free month of Pro as they do, and then let those who love it stick around and those who don’t just move on. If the tidbits hidden in the latest version of the Stadia app are any indication, that could be exactly what we see very soon, anyway.