One year ago, Google Stadia billed three ways to try a new cloud gaming service: you had to buy $130 worth of hardware, pay $10 a month for the service, and buy lots of games. But starting November 19 — Stadia’s anniversary — Google will let you play Destiny 2 without paying.
Destiny 2 is already a free game to play on consoles and Windows PCs, so Google doesn’t like giving away free copies of full-price games. If you invest, you will still need to buy your own expansion. You won’t be able to play with friends on other platforms because the Destiny 2 copy of Stadia doesn’t support cross-platform multiplayer. If you don’t pay $10 a month for the Stadia Pro tier, you’ll be limited to a “1080p” resolution, which isn’t worth the experience you get on an Xbox One, let alone a gaming computer.
But look at the flip side: this is the first real way to see if Stadia is really for you, without spending any money at all. Students can play it on Chromebooks, on web browsers, or Android (not Apple) phones. Even if you have a game console or PC, you can pick up and play your games in another room with a weak laptop without needing to move your hardware.
Google said that there is no limit to the duration of your sessions when you play Destiny 2 for free, so it may be a way for a group of stingy players to create their own new group of friends together.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now has been offering free-to-play games for months now, but you’re limited to one-hour sessions unless you pay monthly for a subscription. However, when Nvidia first announced the one-hour trial, it was such a big deal that the company paid the bill for you to try cloud games for free. Meanwhile, Google has had an unlimited number of free Stadia plans for months — as long as you buy the game — with just a few of the latest free demos.
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I am very interested in what tests will reveal how well Stadia is working across the country and around the world.