Google Stadia will launch without a bunch of promised features

Ahead of Google Stadia’s launch on Nov. 19, Google is hosting an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. As that AMA reveals, Stadia will be missing some key features on launch day; those will start rolling out “as soon as one week after launch,” according to developers.

At launch, players will not have access to an achievements system — though achievements will be saved and recognized when the system launches “shortly” after Stadia’s release date — nor will Stadia support family sharing. Parents will be able to manage children’s “experience on Stadia” with parental controls through Family Link, but can’t share games. Developers said it’s a “high priority” feature that will launch in early 2020.

Stadia will also not support Chromecast Ultra devices that didn’t come with the Stadia bundle at launch — only the ones the streaming platform ships with. The Chromecast Ultra is used to stream games to 4K screens. It’s the only Chromecast device compatible with Stadia at launch. Google will update existing Chromecast Ultra devices “over the air soon after launch,” the developers said.

Google said its approach with Stadia’s launch is like how it does updates for Google Search, YouTube, and other services: a “gradual rollout and continuous improvement” based on user feedback. No games with Stream Connect — Stadia’s multiplayer experience — will be available at launch; developers said “the first game with Stream Connect” will launch before 2020.

Games that support State Share and Crowd Play, other multiplayer features, will be released next year. Likewise, Stadia Buddy Pass, which is a Founder’s Edition bonus, will be available two weeks after a user gets their bundle. (Buddy Pass lets players gift Stadia to someone else for a limited time.) No accessibility features are planned for launch, either; developers said “the team is working with game developers to set standards for accessibility across all games on Stadia.”

“Of course there are many more cool new platform features on the roadmap,” Stadia developers said. “We’re aiming to release new stuff weekly after 11/19.”

But it isn’t all bad news. Developers also announced something new, a Google Pixel and Stadia accessory designed to mount a phone to the Stadia controller. “We’ve designed a special accessory for Pixel and Stadia Controller,” Google said. “The official name is Claw and will be produced by our Made for Google partner PowerSupport. It will be sold exclusively through the Gstore and available for purchase in the coming weeks.”

The company also said Stadia users can use Google Play gift cards and credits to buy games through the Stadia app on Android.

This week, Google announced 12 games that will be available at launch. Fourteen additional titles are expected to be released by the end of 2019. Stadia will launch in 14 countries on Nov. 19 — but one Stadia user in the San Francisco Bay Area will get theirs hand-delivered by Stadia director of product Andrey Doronichev. Doronichev said during the AMA that he’ll drop off a Stadia on Nov. 19, “based on order received and how close you are to [his] house.”

He continued: “We can even play your first game together!”


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