For one, you won’t be able to play local co-op through Stadia games – which seems an odd omission given that functionality will be baked into the game itself. You can start earning in-game achievements from the outset, but also won’t get notifications about passing them until later in 2019.
Other missing features include ‘Crowd Play’ (for allowing streamers to play games with their viewers), gifting Stadia subscriptions, sharing save data between accounts, or compatibility with older Roku Ultra streaming devices (which haven’t shipped with a Stadia controller).
These are all features set to come further down the roadmap – some as soon as December – and their absence may not bother those just keen to try out Stadia for themselves at launch. But given other constraints such as the 12-game launch lineup, and need for wired controllers if you’re not using a Google Chromecast to stream, may be harming the streaming platform’s prospects.
Is Google feeling lucky?
Hype for Stadia feels like it’s been slowing in the run up to launch – in TechRadar’s eyes, anyway. The initial excitement around streaming AAA games is tempered by the realities of Google’s platform, which is less a Netflix-for-games and more a boutique selection of games that can be played without dedicated hardware.
Missing launch features isn’t unusual in itself; a large number of modern software applications get regular updates, tweaks and improvements over its lifespan in response to the needs of its users. Services like Steam and Epic Games Store get continual updates for this reason, as do games themselves, with a large part of Fortnite‘s appeal being the scheduled changes to the items, modes, and functionality during each season.
When Nintendo Switch Online launched in 2018, too, it felt like a bare-bones service, though the inclusion of NES and SNES games since has justified its monthly subscription price slightly more.
There’s certainly an argument for convenience, but when the game line-up is so sparse, and Stadia – which is essentially a console that exists in the cloud – doesn’t yet have the features common to other platforms like the PS4 and Xbox One, it’s hard to get too excited.