Google's upcoming game-streaming service has shown a lot of promise, plus it isn't even priced too badly, but there are still a ton of questions surrounding the platform as we edge closer to the November launch. For that reason, Stadia's Director of Product, Andrey Doronichev, took part in a Reddit AMA to fill in some of the blanks and address some people's concerns.
We've looked through the thread for any morsels that might be of interest. In one response, Doronichev was keen to point out that the paid Stadia Pro tier "is not 'Netflix for Games' like some people have mentioned." He would rather compare it to Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus, as you'll get exclusive discounts and access one free game per month, on average. The first of those will be Destiny 2, in case you were wondering. In what will be music to the ears of many, achievements will be coming to Stadia, and they'll be "similar to other platforms" — unfortunately, this isn't going to be ready until after the official launch.
There's good news about what will happen if you unsubscribe from the Pro tier before resubscribing later, too, as any free games you originally accumulate will be available to you once again when you sign back up. You will miss out on anything that's offered up while you were unsubscribed, though. Unfortunately, there will be no free games offered on the free tier, although that hopefully doesn't include completely free-to-play games like Fornite.
"I certainly hope to have a few free to play games to announce in the next few months. Not ready to share any now, though."
When asked about the social aspect of Stadia, Doronichev said Google is investing heavily in this, so you'll be able to "manage your friends list, create parties and use platform-level voice chat" at launch. Will this count as yet another Google messaging app?
One of the key questions posed about Stadia since its announcement relates to the level of commitment what will happen if Google did pull the plug on it down the road (as the company has been known to do with a number of underperforming products over the years). On this, Doronichev made some thought-provoking parallels with how music, movies, photos, and docs have all been transitioned into the cloud over the course of the past decade or so. The games industry may be a little bit behind in that respect, but the party line is very much that Google is in this for the long haul and sees cloud streaming as the long-term solution that will drive gaming forward. A Takeout feature will also allow users to download their game metadata and save files should they decide to leave the platform.
When Stadia launches, the only way to play on a TV will be with the more expensive Chromecast Ultra that supports the full 4K experience offered on the Pro tier, but Doronichev wouldn't be drawn on whether the cheaper 3rd generation Chromecast would ever be supported. He did say that "more options for all of our TV gamers" would be added in due course, but who knows if that means Android TV boxes like the Nvidia Shield, an upcoming Chromecast product that we've not yet seen, or maybe even dedicated Stadia hardware that's in the works — we'll have to wait and see on that one. Another question pressed the Shield TV point, but that also wasn't answered with any definitive confirmation, although it would seem likely.
On the Stadia controller and the audio setup, Doronichev confirmed that only wired audio via the 3.5mm headphone jack will be supported at launch — no Bluetooth via the controller, but you will obviously be able to connect to whichever device you're playing the game on for that. Doronichev also said that any HID-compliant controller will be supported, and they'll work on adding more and more options as time goes by. He also mentioned the Xbox Adaptive controller as part of the long-term goal of "enabling EVERYONE to play ANYWHERE with WHATEVER controller they want." To begin with, if you want to play on your TV, that will only be possible with a Chromecast Ultra and official Stadia controller together.
While a Parental Dashboard will be available at launch in November, a Family Sharing feature won't come until a little later, but at least it's in the pipeline. Finally, when one Redditor asked about the possibility of a Steam partnership, Doronichev gave an answer that could simply be playful or could offer some real hope:
"Great question! My PR guy will kill me...we’re always evaluating our options to make Stadia a better place for the gamers :)"