Stadia, Google's hotly-anticipated game streaming service, is only six days away from going live. After formally announcing it back in March, the company has been periodically keeping us up-to-date on its features, requirements, and list of launch-day games, trying to cover all the bases. As revealed inside today's Reddit AMA, however, there is a long list of features that will be missing when Stadia launches on the 19th.
Two members from Google's Stadia team, Andrey Doronichev (Director of Product for Stadia) and Beri Lee (director of Publisher Experience on Stadia), hosted the AMA on Reddit today to an enthusiastic crowd of people. Based on many of their responses, the Stadia launch appears to have been really rushed.
Here is a quick list of everything that will be missing initially:
- Family Sharing: Despite being labeled as a "high priority feature" by Doronichev, it won't be available until sometime early next year. This means you'll have to purchase the same game again for your child's account until the feature goes live.
- Buddy pass: Although it won't be available on day one, Google is hoping to roll it out within two weeks after Stadia's launch.
- Achievements: Technically, Achievements will be there on day one, but only in half-baked form. According to Andrey, games will record all achievements but the UI to view them is what's missing. It is to be released "shortly after launch."
- Ability to use existing Chromecast Ultras for Stadia: Existing Chromecast Ultra owners will have to wait for Google to send out firmware updates before they can play games on multiple TVs in their home or on their friend's TV. In the meanwhile, you'll just have to unplug and lug around your pre-order Chromecast Ultra and controller around the house and the neighborhood.
- 4K, HDR, and 5.1-surround sound support on PCs: The Stadia team states that 4K TVs were their top priority, and PCs won't get these niceties until sometime in 2020.
- Stream Connect, State Share, and Crowd Play: These are the features that will make multiplayer possible with others. Google says that once the games that support State Share and Stream Connect are launched, these features follow them.
- The Stadia controller (for some people): Despite pre-ordering within the hour after the launch of the Stadia Founder's Edition, some people's delivery dates are set well after November 19th. To those people, the Stadia team responded by saying that "moving atoms is a bit more complicated and less predictable than moving bits" and reminded them of their option to play, in the meanwhile, on their PCs and phones.
The biggest revelation from today's AMA seems to be that Google is handling the Stadia rollout much in the same way it treats its other products. Per Andrey:
Our approach to releasing features on Stadia is similar to how we run Google Search, YouTube and other Google services: gradual rollout and continuous improvement, based on your feedback. We always start with nailing the key user-journey and then proceed with releasing extra features. YouTube started with “watch video”. For Stadia it’s “Play the Game on your biggest screen”.