Google Stadia's Upcoming Launch Looking Increasingly Incomplete

Google Stadia controller

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • chill1221
    Why would I pay a subscription fee to have the privilege to pay full price for games?
  • Phaaze88
    This isn't surprising at all.

    The extra cost on data consumption is going to hurt a number of people. And let's not forget the Google Graveyard!
  • cryoburner
    chill1221 said:
    Why would I pay a subscription fee to have the privilege to pay full price for games?
    Perhaps you really want to play them with input lag and compression artifacts? : 3
  • Vorador2
    The lag-reducing technology was so amazing it unintentionally produced a time portal where all Stadia features and games where transported to the future!

    chill1221 said:
    Why would I pay a subscription fee to have the privilege to pay full price for games?

    You don't need to buy the sub. You can (in the future, like all Stadia features announced) just buy the hardware, pay for the games and skip the sub. Or buy the Pro subcription and play the games available on it.
  • bigdragon
    Looks like Google is already setting itself up for failure and culling of Stadia. You don't break into a new market by putting out half a product like this or making the launch confusing. First impressions of a new product can make or break it. I don't understand what they're thinking. Google hasn't done their research into failed consoles, streaming services, and online games -- if they had, then Google wouldn't be making such basic mistakes.

    I actually want Google to succeed. I'm not interested in seeing yet another walled garden platform, but I do want to see more competition in the gaming space. We have such a rich variety of ideas thanks to the indie space right now. Risks are being taken again. Stadia presents an opportunity for some indies to up their product quality, for Google to found studios to create new games, and for the yearly AAA monotony to be disrupted.