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Google Stadia's free tier is almost here —but should you even bother?

(Image credit: Cody Engel /

Google's launch of its cloud-gaming service Stadia has been shoddy at best. Now the company is pivoting to a different approach to cloud gaming by making its service available for free. 

If you shell out for Google's Founder's Edition, you'll have to pay $129 on top of a $9.99 subscription fee. The company is now looking to offer a free version.

"The big strategic difference is that over the next few months you will be able to experience Stadia for free," Phil Harrison, vice president and general manager at Google, told Protocol. "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."

It's unclear how this free version will work. There may simply be a free tier below the paid subscription that limits you in some way, like reducing your stream quality. Or it's possible Stadia will be completely free, and all you'd need to buy is an optional controller and Chromecast. Of course, you can just as easily game on a Chromebook instead.

However, even with a free version, it's going to be tough to get people on board when Stadia has so few games. At this point, Stadia offers only 42 games, and a number of those aren't even out yet, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel's Avengers. 

Even with promising services like Project xCloud on the horizon, we're still not sold on Google Stadia -- free or not.