A Reddit AMA (opens in new tab) with Stadia director of product Andrey Doronichev and product manager Beri Lee seemed to go very well in some ways, as for the most part participants seemed genuinely enthusiastic and excited for the upcoming platform. But many of the responses also strongly suggest that the launch is being really rushed.
Family Sharing (opens in new tab), for instance, won't be supported at launch: Doronichev said it's a "high priority feature," but it won't be available until early next year. In the meantime, if you want to play a game with your partner or child, you'll have to buy another copy. The Buddy Pass (opens in new tab), which will enable Stadia Founder's Edition owners to share their service with another person, also won't be available at launch, although Google expects them to go out roughly two weeks after the Founder's Edition bundles have shipped.
Achievements (opens in new tab) also won't be fully complete in time for launch, either. Games will apparently track the relevant information, but "the platform UI for viewing your achievements and achievement notifications" won't be in place until sometime after Stadia launches.
It also sounds like existing Chromecast Ultra devices won't actually be ready (opens in new tab) for Stadia when the service goes live. "On Day 1 you should use the Chromecast Ultra that came in your bundle. It has the latest firmware," Doronichev said. "We will be updating the existing CC Ultra’s over the air soon after launch. So you’ll be able to use your Stadia Controller to play on many TVs in your home."
There's also some bad, and frankly weird, news for gamers expecting to rock out with 4K/HDR gameplay on their PCs: That's off the table (opens in new tab) until sometime next year too.
"On 11/19 we’ll be only streaming 4K / HDR / 5.1 to Chromecast Ultra. We know from the feedback the Founders gave us that the 4K TV must be our top priority for launch. On day 1, PC Chrome gameplay won't support 4K, HDR, or 5.1 Surround Sound," Doronichev said. "But in the spirit of gradual rollout, we’ll be adding support for 4K/HDR/5.1 on PCs in 2020."
I'm no expert on streaming game services, but it sure sounds to me like Stadia just isn't ready to fly. That's not to say it won't be functional, but the absence of so many promised (and, let's be honest, basic) features, and the lack of specificity on when we can expect them to arrive, is not a good look for such a heavily scrutinized platform. Instead of coming out hard and erasing doubts left behind by platforms like OnLive (opens in new tab) and Gaikai (opens in new tab), Google appears to be committed primarily to showing up in time for Black Friday, come hell or high water.
Even the list of free games that Stadia Pro subscribers will get still hasn't been revealed. Doronichev said it will be announced "soon (opens in new tab)," and I would certainly hope so, since Stadia rolls out on November 19—just six days from today.