Google Stadia’s free demos could prove the value of game streaming

Last June, Google first revealed that it would be selling individual Stadia streaming games as full-priced à la carte purchases. At the time, we lamented that this old-fashioned business model ignored the service’s greatest potential feature: convenience. The value of streaming media is often in the “ability to simply dive into a new work immediately, without having to think about whether it’s worth the marginal cost of an additional purchase,” as we wrote at the time.

Now, Google finally seems to be catching on to that idea, at least a little bit. Starting today, Google will begin offering time-limited, completely free demos for upcoming Stadia games, which can be played instantly in a Web browser simply by clicking on a link.

The program begins today with Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, a 64-player competitive Battle Royale take on the classic maze game that evokes instant comparisons to Tetris 99 and Super Mario Bros. 35. You can try that game out right now just by clicking a link, with no downloads or installation required. While you will need a Google Stadia account to take part, you won’t need to sign up for a “free trial” of Google’s $10/month Stadia Pro subscription or even enter any payment information, Google says.

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