Carriers are expanding their growing list of freebies to include game streaming services. AT&T has struck a deal with Google to offer six months of Stadia Pro access at no extra charge to new (or newly upgraded) fiber internet customers and wireless subscribers with “eligible” plans that buy or upgrade to 5G-capable phones. If you need gear to play in the living room, you can also buy a Stadia Premiere Edition bundle (that is, a Stadia Controller and Chromecast Ultra) at a heavily discounted $20. The deals will be available as of June 9th.
There’s not much mystery to the strategy. For AT&T, this is about driving subscriptions. You might be more likely to upgrade your service if you can see the benefit of the extra bandwidth and reduced lag, even if you have no intentions of sticking with Stadia after the six months are over.
For Google, meanwhile, this could lead to at least a temporary boost in subscribers. It’s no secret that Stadia faces an uncertain future with multiple departing leaders and the shutdown of its internal game studios. While there’s a good chance that many AT&T customers won’t pay for Stadia, Google might see the tie-in as worthwhile if it tips momentum even slightly in its favor.