SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Google on Wednesday made its online video game service Stadia free to provide an escape for those curled up in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Launched late last year, Stadia is designed to make it as easy for users to access console-quality games as they do via email on a range of internet-connected devices.
“Keeping a social distance is vital, but staying home for long periods of time can be difficult and feel isolated,” Stadia Vide chairman Phil Harrison said in an online article.
“Video games can be a valuable way to socialize with friends and family when you’re stuck at home. “
Google offers free access to Stadia for two months. The readiness was slated to be rolled out to 14 countries by the end of this week.
Those who sign up for the service will be able to play nine games, including one destiny collection, and have the option of purchasing other titles, according to Harrison.
“With increased demand due to the increased number of people in the home during this time, we are taking a responsible approach to internet traffic,” said Harrison.
Stadia is already adjusting the game’s streaming load to match the internet capabilities where gamers live, but is working to lower the graphics resolution to lighten the online data load.
“The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop computer won’t notice a significant drop in game quality,” Harrison said, warning that Stadia technical support could be hampered due to Google staff working at home during the pandemic.
Google, seeking to disrupt the gaming world with Stadia, has not revealed how many fans the service has attracted since its launch in November.
Google sells kits containing a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into TVs.
Stadia games are also playable using Google Chrome web browser software on computers and with Pixel smartphones made by Google from the second generation onwards.