What you need to know
- Google Stadia's free tier is on track to launch in the "next few months".
- Stadia launched originally with a $130 hardware price tag and a $10 per month subscription plan.
- Stadia launched last year to mixed reception, with the wonderful potential of the platform being praised.
It's not much, but we finally have a timeline of sorts telling us when to expect Google Stadia's awaited free tier.
In an interview given to Protocol, Google exec Phil Harrison hinted at release schedule, saying:
The big strategic difference is that over the next few months you will be able to experience Stadia for free. No money down, without having to put a box in your home, you can just click and play amazing games straight from our data center.
There's almost nothing vaguer than a few months in terms of timelines, but at least its confirmation that the free Stadia is on track for at least this year, and hopefully by the summer.
It's hard to deny that Google Stadia is a gaming experience with potential, lots of it. In a brief demo with the tech, I came away fairly impressed at what it could do if it was ever feature-complete. Unfortunately, it seemed Google released it before it came close to actualizing that potential.
Android Central's Russell Holly noted in his review:
From the moment Google took to the stage at GDC in the Spring of 2019, the goal has been clear. Stadia promises a frictionless gaming experience, the end of install times, region restrictions, software updates, and maintenance, the kind of thing which wrecks game releases on the PC occasionally and slows down the overall console gaming experience. You just pick up the controller, sit down, and play whether you're in your living room or out and about. No bullshit, just video games. After a week with Stadia, I can see a path to that promise. But at the moment, it's nowhere close.
It's true that the launch of a free Stadia tier could help boost the platform in 2020, but a bugged launch could have already scared off the kind of early adopters a gaming platform needs to begin with.