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Stadia looks to be very limited at launch and not just the amount of games

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The official launch of Stadia is only days away, so Google recently hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and we have some more details to share about it.

After finding out recently it's only going to have 12 games at launch, we have been wondering exactly what else from their service is going to be missing in action at launch. Now we know there's going to be a number of other limitations, thanks to the question and answer session. Here's a few newer details:

  • Google are going for a "gradual rollout and continuous improvement" approach based on feedback. With new features coming as early as a week after launch and possibly new features on a weekly basis.
  • You absolutely need an Android or iOS mobile device for Stadia, even if you're going to use a PC. The initial setup and to even buy games actually requires the Stadia mobile application. For playing on mobiles, Google will start by letting you play only on their Pixel line with it eventually rolling out to Apple devices and other Androids.
  • Only the Chromecast Ultra will work with 4K at launch. While playing on PC in a Chrome browser will work it is limited to 1080p, PC with Chrome will not yet support 4K, HDR or 5.1 Surround Sound.
  • They're not announcing the line-up of games included to play free in the Pro subscription yet. Apart from the already announced Destiny 2. If you stop paying for Pro, you lose games accessed with it.
  • The State Share feature, that allows people to jump into games at a specific point, and the Crowd Play to let people watching you join in will both be missing at launch. The first games to support them will come next year.
  • You won't be able to even view any achievements. The UI for it is not ready but you will still earn them right away there's just nothing available to see them.
  • If you have a family, you will be able to buy Stadia games for them but there's currently no Family Sharing feature. They said it's a high priority though, to come next year.
  • Stadia Names must be between 3 and 15 characters, letters or numbers.
  • There will not be another Stadia Connect video before launch.
  • You will be able to access Stadia even before your hardware arrives, as they will be emailing access codes to people when they ship the Founder and Premier Editions. So you can play on PC right away.

I said before this Debian Linux + Vulkan API powered streaming service faced an uphill battle, now it sounds like more of a mountain.

Overall, I can't help but feel like this is really a Beta/Soft Launch under a poor disguise given just how limited the Stadia service is actually going to be. Given the high price of entry for the Founder and Premier Editions it's a bit laughable really.

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45 comments
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vskye 16 November 2019 at 4:13 pm UTC
At this time, no thanks. Perhaps when things get sorted in a year or so I'll consider giving this a try, if there are any games I'm *really* interested in playing, and of course it must work under Linux.
rat2000 16 November 2019 at 4:20 pm UTC
QuoteGoogle are going for a "gradual rollout and continues improvement" approach based on feedback

It's only logical since Google has a very good track record for listening to user feedback...
Salvatos 16 November 2019 at 5:30 pm UTC
I too am surprised by the fact that people are surprised by the lack of features at launch. This is a challenging service to implement and Google has an incredibly large audience. It makes sense to expect breakage across so many potential devices, networks and use cases and to expand the service slowly, not unlike Valve’s Proton whitelist. I do however believe they should have more clearly expressed that it would be a beta at "launch" for those who did not see the obvious and thought they were pre-purchasing something like a full-featured console launch.

That said, I don’t understand why they would need a mobile app to be involved in any of this, and it’s just making me even more wary of the whole thing with regards to spying on the users. I’m going back from "I might consider it if..." to a big fat no.


Last edited by Salvatos on 16 November 2019 at 5:33 pm UTC
dvd 16 November 2019 at 5:52 pm UTC
SalvatosThat said, I don’t understand why they would need a mobile app to be involved in any of this, and it’s just making me even more wary of the whole thing with regards to spying on the users. I’m going back from "I might consider it if..." to a big fat no.

The need for a mobile device is most likely because they integrate this into the app store (or similar) somehow, where most of the paid-for software is. It is the least of the inconveniences imo. I don't see how a service like this will succeed when there was a big uproar against "always online" games few years back. This is even worse in my opinion.
denyasis 16 November 2019 at 6:11 pm UTC
I remember when Steam Machines came out and we're a commercial failure, as predicted. The thing is, some argued, it was never really a commercial venture in the first place. Valve was playing "long game" of corporate maneuvering and we normal people didn't couldn't see their plans.

I must idly wonder if perhaps this is the same with Google. The technologies (and tools and training) developed may have more practical and profitable applications in other business endeavors. Stadia may just be a way to recover some R&D costs and be nice PR to show off new tech.

Thoughts?
1xok 16 November 2019 at 6:22 pm UTC
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Google can only make the service successful with new gamers. People who don't play today. But they mainly rely on classic AAA titles. Of which, however, they also offer only a few. That will be extremely hard against Steam. I think Valve is going to take a look at that now and try to draw his conclusions from Google's mistakes. However, Google has extreme financial resources. They can run such a service for a long time in the red and burn hundreds of millions without it really hurting them.


Last edited by 1xok on 16 November 2019 at 6:38 pm UTC
vector 16 November 2019 at 6:56 pm UTC
For a service like Stadia, family sharing is the type of thing I would want ironed out before launch.

Stadia's code of conduct (http://g.co/stadia/conduct) isn't available as of the time of this post, but I would like to see it, particularly if Stadia has or will have integrated chat. I don't watch Markiplier, but as I understand it, some of his viewers recently had their accounts suspended for spamming emoticons (with his blessing) in his YouTube chat.

Given that Stadia currently doesn't feature ads in the UI (based on what I've seen of it), I am interested to know what cut of game sales Google receives. I am also curious to see the degree to which Stadia will be integrated with YouTube. Most conjecture I have seen has been focused on whether Stadia is targeted at the console market or the PC market (or both), but it may prove to be as much of a salvo against Twitch (encourage and facilitate Stadia users to stream gameplay on YouTube, and encourage and facilitate YouTube views such as having a Stadia overlay which accesses relevant game-related YouTube content).
"Twitch Continues to Dominate Live Streaming with Its Second Biggest Quarter to Date" (2019 July)
"More People Are Streaming on Twitch but YouTube Is the Platform of Choice for Mobile Game Streamers" (2019 Feb)

Chrome already dominates the browser market, but I'm not enthusiastic about Stadia essentially promoting the Chrome (and wider Google) ecosystem. It increasingly feels to me like the Internet is Google's world, we just live in it. While I do not deny the investment Google has in open source and the code contributions it has made, that Google uses Linux and other open-source software to advance its holdings is of little comfort to me, just as Microsoft having more (identifiable) employees actively contributing to open-source projects on GitHub than any other company (dating back to at least 2016) is of little comfort to me.


Last edited by vector on 16 November 2019 at 8:31 pm UTC
einherjar 16 November 2019 at 10:59 pm UTC
Sounds smart to me.
Instead of a "Big Bang", they do an incremental implementation of their new service.

Nothing wrong with that.

They start with a small user base and optimize it while they are bringing new features and get more customers on it.
The early adopters give feedback and you learn from that while making your product bigger - that´s how you do it.
Botonoski 17 November 2019 at 12:15 am UTC
Looks like another project for the Google Graveyard, I just can't see any game streaming service working unless the US's internet infrastructure is severely overhauled.
TheRiddick 17 November 2019 at 2:57 am UTC
Stadia: BUY our games, so we can invalidate them later on...

Really not sure what their thinking, they need to make public announcements on exactly how they will handle the bought games license when their service is unavailable or shutdown! avoiding the topic is going to REALLY hurt stadia down the line!

Also it would be nice if they made the streaming service OPTIONAL, so the games you bought you could choose to install locally on either a windows/mac/linux machine, for local play (obviously syncing online each time except when in offline mode).

THAT would make the service MUCH MUCH more attractive IMO, say you only want to use their streaming service when out of the house on your mobile or laptop, but when your home you want to play it locally off your main machine.. makes sense to me....

Something tells me Valve is going to beat them to the punch on this one!


Last edited by TheRiddick on 17 November 2019 at 3:01 am UTC
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