Google Stadia AMA Clarifies What Features Will be Available at Launch
Google Stadia's major features were announced a while back, but Google was never very clear about which of the features would actually be available when Stadia launches on November 19. The short answer is "not very many," according to a recent Reddit AMA with Stadia Director of Product Andrey Doronichev and Stadia Product Manager Beri Lee.
To kick things off, Family Sharing won't be available at launch. That means if family members want games on their individual accounts, they'll have to buy multiple copies until Family Sharing gets rolled out "early next year," which is a bit of a step back from the recent updates to Google Play accounts.
Neither State Share nor Crowd Play will be available until 2020. And while another of Stadia's multiplayer components, Stream Connect, is planned to release by the end of the year, it won't be available at launch, either.
As for achievements, they will tally at launch, though seeing them in your initial play sessions at launch is another matter. The AMA confirmed that the UI around achievements isn't yet in place and will make its way to the platform soon. Doronichev said of achievements:
You will start achieving right away! Because games will be recording your achievements on Stadia on day one! It’s just the platform UI for viewing your achievements and achievement notifications will launch shortly after launch. I know, it’s something you want. Just imagine the day the UI launches: you’ll get a bunch of achievements all at once! MEGA OVER ACHIEVEMENT! :)
Further, the ability to stream Stadia in 4K on PCs won't come until sometime later this year. It's listed — like most of the other features — as a high-priority update. For now, the only way to stream 4K/HDR/5.1 is through the Chromecast Ultra that comes with Stadia. Firmware updates for other devices will, of course, come later as well.
Regarding 4K/HDR/5.1 functionality at launch, Doronichev said across several questions:
Finally, on 11/19 we’ll be only streaming 4K / HDR / 5.1 to Chromecast Ultra. We know from the feedback the Founders gave us that the 4K TV must be our top priority for launch. On day 1, PC Chrome gameplay won't support 4K, HDR, or 5.1 Surround Sound. But in the spirit of gradual rollout, we’ll be adding support for 4K/HDR/5.1 on PCs in 2020...
On Day 1 you should use the Chromecast Ultra that came in your bundle. It has the latest firmware. We will be updating the existing CC Ultra’s over the air soon after launch. So you’ll be able to use your Stadia Controller to play on many TVs in your home...
Accessibility features for Stadia games won't be included until an undisclosed time in the future, either, while the touted Stadia "Buddy Pass" won't become available until two weeks after launch. Finally, you won't be able to buy Stadia games on the web at launch; that functionality is only available through the supported Chromecast device and tethered to your phone.
On the bright side, Google announced the Claw, a device that lets you fix your Android phone onto your Stadia controller, making play and use easier.
Hearing that these features announced long-ago aren't planned for launch doesn't help either. Still, there's no way to tell how effective a platform is without going hands-on, so stay tuned to GameSkinny for our Stadia impressions next week.
You can check the full AMA here.