Alphabet's (GOOG -1.39%) (GOOGL -1.40%) Google is the latest technology company to respond to the unique circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak. With countless numbers of people essentially stuck at home to avoid the spread of the disease, Google's Stadia -- its relatively new video gaming service -- is now available for free. Meanwhile, free two-month trials of the more powerful tier of the service, Stadia Pro, are also available.
Stadia is Google's answer to the ever-growing gaming market. It's unique in the sense that a high-end gaming computer isn't necessary to fully enjoy the service. Rather, the heavy-duty computing work is offloaded to the company's data centers and "streamed" to a user's device. The technology even makes smartphones capable of playing game titles that could be tough for lesser computers to handle.
The service has not been especially well-received by the gaming community in the 14 countries where it's available, however. Namely, in-game lag has been a persistent complaint. Making the lesser tier of the service (a version known as Stadia Base) free to anyone with a Google account might adjust expectations, although not without compromises.
Whereas the Pro version, which normally costs $9.99 per month, offers up to 4K graphics and 5.1 surround sound, the free tier is limited to 1080p graphics and basic stereo. Most notably, Stadia Pro offers a rolling selection of a few playable games. Users of the free tier still must purchase their games, as will Pro customers who want more games than the handful of titles accessible at any given time.