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.
Launched late last year, Stadia is crafted to let people access console-quality games as easily as they do email on an array of Internet-linked devices.
"Keeping social distance is vital, but staying home for long periods can be difficult and feel isolating," Stadia vide president Phil Harrison said in an online post.
"Video games can be a valuable way to socialise with friends and family when you're stuck at home."
Google is offering free access to Stadia for two months. Those who sign up to the service will be able to play nine games, including the Destiny collection, and have the option to buy other titles, according to Harrison.
"With increased demand due to more people at home during this time, we're taking a responsible approach to internet traffic," Harrison said.
Stadia already adjusts the game streaming load based on Internet capabilities where players live, but is working on scaling back graphics resolution to lighten the data load online. "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.
"The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop won't notice a significant drop in gameplay quality," Harrison said, warning that Stadia tech support might be impeded due to Google staff working from home during the pandemic.
Google seeking to disrupt the video game world with Stadia, has not disclosed how many fans the service has attracted since its November launch.
Google sells kits that contain a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into television sets.
Stadia games are also playable using Google Chrome Web browser software on computers and with Google-made Pixel smartphones from the second-generation onward.