Players of Google Stadia will have their own corner of the cosmos when the game streaming services launches with Destiny 2 in November. Over the weekend, Eurogamer spotted a Bungie support article confirming that Stadia players won't be able to play people on any other platform, despite the developer's goal of making the platform someone happens to be using at any given time less relevant with a new cross-saving feature.
Bungie said the new cross-save feature would "preserve all gear, character and items across all platforms regardless of entitlements." That way people who usually play Destiny 2 on Xbox One, for example, should be able to seamlessly play as the same character on a PlayStation 4. Having that sense of persistent progression should help platform-hopping seem more viable to Destiny 2's most devoted players.
Yet the cross-platform experience will stay restricted in other ways. Bungie said that expansions have to be purchased on each platform and that matchmaking pools will still be restricted by device. That includes Stadia, with the developer explaining that "Stadia is its own ecosystem, just like current existing platforms" and confirming that "Stadia players will only be able to play with other Stadia players."
That restriction could put a damper on Stadia's launch. Destiny 2 is a core part of Google's marketing push. It's going to be the first game offered to Stadia Pro subscribers at no extra charge, and Google's online store (opens in new tab) uses footage from the game for nearly all of the Stadia Founder's Edition promotional materials. Yet the multiplayer-focused title's audience will naturally be limited when Stadia Pro debuts.
Having fewer people to play with at launch is merely another item on the list of Stadia's obstacles to overcome. Google announced that the game streaming platform would debut in November in the U.S. UK, Belgium, Finland, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden. But it's not clear that developers--or ISPs--will showcase the service's potential that soon.
We played Doom Eternal via Stadia at E3 2019 and came away with mixed impressions. We experienced lag a few times despite using a hardwired connection set up specifically to demo the service, the game crashed twice and other reporters told us the game disconnected entirely. Some of these problems can be explained away by it being a pre-release demo, but November isn't that far away.
A report from PC Gamer said that Stadia could use up to 1TB of data in just 65 hours when playing at max settings. (The service changes its quality and performance based on the speed of the internet connection being used to play it.) That could be a hard sell for those living in many parts of the U.S. where internet providers enforce strict monthly data caps on their subscribers.
That doesn't mean Google won't be able to pull it off. Stadia is relatively cheap, we did enjoy our time with Doom Eternal and there are bound to be a fair number of potential subscribers who couldn't care less about Destiny 2. Those who do enjoy Bungie's loot-based FPS should just know that they're going to be in a less-populated instance of the game than many of their counterparts.