Google briefly demos the Stadia UI and lists some missing features at launch

Google Stadia is now just days away from release, but yesterday’s Reddit AMA by the Stadia development team has revealed that we’ll have to wait a while longer for many of the features originally promised.

Alongside the Pixel 4, Google Stadia is one of Google’s most hotly anticipated products scheduled for launch this year.

Since the project was first announced, Stadia has promised to take gaming in a new, exciting direction.

The platform will allow users to play games on their Chromecast, smartphone or browser without the need for a console or separate platform to render games. Instead the games are rendered in the cloud on Google’s servers, and streamed to users.

On top of the ‘cloud gaming’ approach, Google has promised a number of innovative features which make Stadia a very community-oriented gaming platform. Unfortunately, as we found out yesterday, a lot of these features won’t be ready for launch on Tuesday 19th.

Which features aren’t ready yet?

Yesterday’s Reddit AMA will unfortunately have left a bitter taste in the mouths of customers who’ve already pre-ordered Google Stadia Founder’s Edition.

Answering the AMA were Stadia’s Director of Product, Andrey Doronichev, and Stadia’s publisher lead, Beri Lee.

As reported by Engadget, it’s not just a couple of small features which will be missing. There are some key issues which you would really expect to have been sorted for launch.

Perhaps the most glaringly obvious shortcoming is the fact that customers won’t be able to use their existing Chromecast Ultras to access Stadia on launch day. Only the Chromecast Ultras which ship with the Stadia controllers will have the required firmware to play Stadia games.

Customers who want to use their current Chromecast Ultras will have to wait for a firmware update, the release date of which wasn’t confirmed by Doronichev.

Google Stadia multiplayer gaming
The launch of Google Stadia has been hotly anticipated. Photo: Stadia Cloud Gaming Gamescom Cologne 2019 via Wikimedia Commons

There is also a long list of Stadia features which won’t be ready. This includes key community play features like State Share, Crowd Play and Stream Connect.

These features were key to Stadia’s initial appeal, allowing players to share their games with each other in real time. Doronichev confirmed that the first Stream Connect-enabled game will be released before the end of the year, whilst the first games with State Share and Crowd Play will arrive next year.

Family sharing also won’t be available until early next year. Doronichev said, “Family Sharing is not supported on day 1, so you’ll have to buy games for your child’s account,” – probably not what Founder’s Edition customers wanted to hear.

Among the other features which won’t be available at launch are Buddy Passes and Stadia’s achievement system, although achievements will still be registered, just not shown until the UI is updated.

Finally, some customers will have to wait to get their Stadia controllers as there are significant delivery delays.

Google Stadia controller
Controller deliveries will be delayed. Photo: Google Stadia controller via Marco Verch

Are game developers confident in Stadia?

While customers will be feeling let down by the Stadia launch issues, it doesn’t seem like game developers are particularly hopeful either.

According to reports by Ars Technica, many game developers are worried that the Stadia project will be cancelled in the not-too-distant future.

Stadia game developer, Gwen Frey, told GamesIndustry.biz that, “The biggest complaint most developers have with Stadia is the fear that Google is just going to cancel it.”

If game developers aren’t confident in the platform, Google will have some serious issues going forward.

At the moment it seems the Stadia project isn’t quite going as smoothly as it could. Hopefully, the issues will be ironed out as, on paper at least, the platform has a great deal of promise.

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