Google Stadia has been living a quiet life since it was launched late last year. It didn’t make as much headway on the video gaming landscape as it would have liked to in the weeks following its launch, and then it was hit by delays in games being launched for the platform. For a short while, things went so quiet on the Stadia front that some users thought that Google might be preparing to throw in the towel already, but thankfully that hasn’t been the case. It wasn’t a perfect start, but the service is now up and running reliably with more games being added all the time -and getting involved with it and giving it a try is now a lot cheaper than it used to be.
The basic premise of Stadia was a good one when it was proposed, and remains a good one today if it can be executed properly. The basic idea is the same idea that drives the popularity of online slots websites. Rather than just offering a single game for a fixed price, and restricting it to use on the console it’s played on, Stadia can, in theory, be played from anywhere. Just as online slots websites like Kong Casino contain several hundred different online slots and allow users to access them through a single account on any laptop, smartphone, or tablet, Stadia allows users to play games using any device that has a screen and an internet connection. It’s a proven business model for online slots websites, and there’s no reason why it can’t be a proven model for Google so long as they can persuade enough gamers to give them a try.
The big headline is that after several months of delays, the long-promised ‘free tier’ has finally been launched, which in theory means that people can gain access to the Stadia platform and play games free of charge. So long as you have a Google Gmail account – which is free to sign up for – you can register and start playing games on the free tier today.
The ‘free tier’ is currently limited to two months of free Stadia Pro membership. You’ll be required to enter payment details when you sign up, so if you forget to cancel your membership at the end of that two month period, you’ll find yourself subscribing at $10 per month without further warning. The flipside of this is that while you’re a Stadia member, you get a large discount on games that are available through Stadia, and you can keep those games even if you don’t decide to keep your membership after the two months are up. If you don’t want to buy any games at all, you still have nine titles to choose from and play free of charge, most notably ‘Destiny 2: The Collection,’ and ‘GRID.’ Further games are expected to be released in May, and will, therefore, fall within the two month trial period.
The other impediment to joining up with Stadia and playing games has, in the past, been the requirement to use a Google-made controller to do so. The controller isn’t cheap, and at the time the service went live, it could only be bought directly from Google at a retail price of just under $60. That always seemed a little excessive given the fact that the Stadia controller didn’t do anything that the vast majority of video game controllers didn’t already go, and it seems that with the launch of their free offer, Google has now woken up to that fact. So long as you already have a functional video game controller of some kind, you can now use it to play Stadia games without the need to make an additional purchase from Google.
If you have a PlayStation 4 with a Dualshock controller, getting set up couldn’t be simpler. When you’re playing Stadia games through Chrome on a PC, you can connect the controller using either a cable or Bluetooth. You’ll need to connect the controller to the PC using its Micro USB cable in order to get the correct drivers installed, but once that’s been done, it should be plain sailing. The controller will also work with any phone that runs Android 10 software. To start pairing your controller, press the ‘share’ button and the central PlayStation button at the same time, holding down the latter. You should see the light on the top of the controller begin to blink, indicating that it’s looking for a device to pair with. You should now be able to locate it on either your phone or your laptop, and it will work automatically.
An almost identical process can be followed to make an Xbox One controller work with Stadia, and on the same devices, too. Stadia automatically supports this controller via Chrome, with options available for wired or wireless use. The USB cable that came with the controller can be used to pair it up with any PC, but Bluetooth is a little harder to get to. The oldest versions of the Xbox One controller (the ones with the glossy finish around the Xbox button) don’t offer Bluetooth support at all, but the newer models with the headphone jack on the bottom do. Hold down the controller’s Xbox button, wait for it to light up, and then hold down the ‘connect’ button on the top of the controller. When the Xbox logo starts blinking, you should be able to find it through Bluetooth on either your phone or your computer.
With these improvements and innovations, Google has knocked down several of the barriers that were preventing people from giving their new platform a look. Without those barriers in place, this might be the best possible time to find out whether Stadia is for you or not. The games are free, your membership is free for a time, and you don’t have to buy any hardware whatsoever to get involved. As the old saying goes, ‘try it – you might like it!’