Google launched Stadia on November 19th, 2019 with ambitions of becoming a games platform, but the gaming service has had a rough go of it ever since.
Aside from competing with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, who have a long-established hold on the industry, the unique gaming experience proposed by Google was riddled with more friction than gamers usually care for.
Stadia is an entirely cloud-based gaming service from Google that runs on a variety of different devices.
Unlike the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or Nintendo Switch, which are dedicated pieces of gaming hardware, Stadia is a platform that’s accessible on Chromecast, the Chrome browser, Pixel, and other Android devices with support for up to 4K HDR gaming at 60 FPS.
At the Google for Games Developer Summit today, the tech giant announced several improvements coming to its Stadia platform over the course of this year, designed to reduce friction and make the overall user (and developer) experience much better — reports The Verge.
Today’s announcements included:
- Allowing Stadia game developers to offer an instantly accessible free trial of their game that is simply click-and-play for users and won’t even require them to log into a Stadia account to play.
- The ability to search the Stadia store exclusively for free game demos, completely free games, and games to buy without having to log into a Stadia or Google account. Search is a pretty sore subject for Stadia users since the platform didn’t even add a search bar until April 2021.
- Giving game developers the ability to migrate their Unreal Engine and Unity games to Stadia more easily, with tools like DXVK to automatically translate DirectX APIs — “so developers don’t have to modify their game renderer at all,” said Justin Rende, a Stadia spokesperson.
- Google also announced white-label partnerships with brands like AT&T, where the latter can sign up to offer free demos and paid games of their own on Google’s platform, a B2B offering now dubbed “Immersive Stream for Games.”
These changes are intended to make it free and easy for developers to port their games over to Google’s cloud platform and put them in front of anyone instantly. For gamers, the improved Stadia experience will make it so they can browse games they might like to try before they buy, actually search for freebies, and not have to verify their Stadia or Google account to jump into a game.
Unfortunately, Stadia users will still have to be logged into a Google account to access free trials, but Stadia spokesperson Justin Rende said the company is still “continuing to experiment with the goal of removing friction where we can.”
Stadia users can already play popular titles like Crayta, Destiny 2, Hitman, PUBG, and Super Bomberman R Online for free on the platform, along with a handful of big game demos like Rainbow Six: Extraction and Resident Evil Village. Google also announced a free, timed trial of Risk of Rain 2, coming to Stadia today.
As Google continues to improve Stadia, the company regularly adds new games and features to the platform. Check out our recent roundup of Google’s February 2022 updates for Stadia here.