Google Stadia is set to debut on November 19. That launch already had several caveats, however, including the fact that not everyone who pre-ordered the Founder's Edition bundle will receive their hardware in time for the platform's debut. Now the company has said that many of Stadia's multiplayer-centric features won't be ready in time for the game streaming platform's launch either.
The additional information about Stadia's launch arrived during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with Stadia product director Andrey Doronichev and Beri Lee, who "look[s] after the Publisher experience on Stadia," on Reddit. Doronichev and Lee revealed that many of Stadia's features aren't ready in time for launch and said that several won't make their debut until some time in 2020.
So what are the missing features? There are many, including numerous aspects of Stadia's multiplayer experience. The platform's achievement system won't arrive until 2020, nor will a State Share feature that lets people share in-game experiences via direct links, nor Crowd Play for letting YouTube streamers easily set up multiplayer games with their audiences.
Stream Connect, which is Stadia's take on split-screen multiplayer, also won't be available when Stadia debuts. The so-called Buddy Pass that Founder's Edition pre-order customers are supposed to be able to give their friends won't be ready until two weeks after the platform goes live. People who pre-ordered the Stadia Controller outside of Google's bundles will also have to wait for their units to arrive.
Google also revealed that its Chromecast Ultra--which is the streaming device at the heart of the Founder's Edition and Premier Edition bundles--won't be ready to access Stadia until it receives a firmware update. That means people who pre-ordered the Stadia Controller instead of a Founder's Edition bundle because they already owned a Chromecast Ultra will have to wait an unknown length of time to access the streaming platform.
The platform will be limited on PC, too, with Google saying that Stadia won't offer 4K, HDR or 5.1 surround sound streaming via its Chrome browser when the service debuts. Those features will be available via the Chromecast Ultra units that ship with the Founder's Edition bundles, but everyone else will have to wait to use Stadia to its full potential (assuming their Internet connections support those settings).
We already knew it would take a while for Google to ship all of the Founder's Edition pre-orders to its customers. The company had also quietly revealed that the wireless Stadia Controller would require a wired connection to everything but the Chromecast Ultra until it receives a firmware update that enables connectivity with other devices. Now we know the company's shipping a nearly empty Stadia.