Google Stadia gaming platform introduces bandwidth controls in light of coronavirus

Google says the restrictions are necessary to responsibly manage traffic demands.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Google is introducing bandwidth and resolution restrictions on the Stadia gaming platform in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

On Wednesday, Phil Harrison, Vice President and general manager of Google Stadia said that the tech giant anticipates increased demand for bandwidth from users due to COVID-19 restrictions, and has therefore decided to reduce Internet traffic loads. 

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Specifically, default screen resolutions will be reduced from 4k to 1080p. Harrison says that the majority of users on desktop or laptop systems are unlikely to notice a difference when the settings change is rolled out. 

Hardcore gamers used to 4K resolution may notice, but the change is likely to only be in place while many of us are required to socially distance or stay at home to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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The company's decision follows the likes of Netflix and YouTube, both of which have also chosen to limit streaming quality to reduce overall traffic loads. 

Cloud technology provides the backbone of Google's gaming service, making it possible to take the processing and power load away from in-home machines -- whether PC or mobile -- in order to stream and play computer games. Google has also taken the opportunity to bring other games to the Stadia fold. 

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Starting on Wednesday and carrying over today, the tech giant is rolling out free access to Stadia Pro across 14 countries. Usually priced at $9.99 per month, the subscription will be available for free for two months and comes bundled with nine games including GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper. Any games purchased throughout the free subscription period will remain in user accounts. 

Existing Stadia Pro subscribers will not be charged over the next eight weeks. 

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