Just days away from Stadia’s Founder Edition launch, Google has confirmed during a Reddit AMA session that the streaming service will be missing a number of key features; most notably, the ability to run Stadia via existing Chrome Cast Ultra devices, family sharing, and Crowd Play game-sharing.
Director of product Andrey Doronichev and publisher lead Beri Lee explained that only Chrome Cast Ultra’s supplied with Stadia have the necessary firmware to support Stadia at launch. An update will amend the issue with existing Chromecasts “soon after launch.”
That’s obviously an upset for those who had already been planning the home logistics of their Stadia set up. But worse, still, is that family sharing isn’t up and running. That means you’ll need to double-purchase games for other family members to use until next year. Yikes.
You can’t even play with a friend, either, because Buddy Play is also disabled at launch. That, if you remember, was the free Stadia pass you were supposed to be able to send a friend so that you could multiplayer together. It was one of the Founder’s Editions big sell points, but they aren’t coming for several weeks after launch now.
Doronichev explained that “We (Google) 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.”
Of course, we’ve known for a while that Stadia’s achievement system won’t be available at launch, either.
The AMA wasn’t all doom and gloom, though; a number of cool features were showcased, including how quality settings work, friends list functionality, how to connect at Stadia controller, and the UI’s appearance.
It would appear that when Stadia is fully up and running it’s likely to prove an excellent user experience. But “when” is the optimum word, here — the Founder’s Edition certainly isn’t looking very attractive at this moment in time, especially in combination with the less than exciting 12-game launch line-up.
As of right now, my opinion on Stadia is unchanged: the platform needs quality exclusives to muscle its way into the games industry in a meaningful way. It’s an opinion conveyed by many industry analysts, too.