Stadia has been criticized at the launch for missing and attaching “coming 2020” to so many core features. At the end of 2019, Google’s game-streaming platform will really grow this year, just six weeks old. Here’s a look at all that’s yet to come.
Wireless Stadia Controller for mobile devices, desktop
Even if what appears on the screen is streaming from a fareway server, it’s not very futuristic to have a wire attached from your phone or PC to a game controller. The first-party direct Wi-Fi connectivity made by Google can only be find on the Chromecast Ultra.
While for the majority the best and most popular gaming experience is in front of a large TV, mobile and web are what really underlines the need for no console. Such two form factors expand AAA gaming outside the house, and for general gamers this is a first. Stadia Premiere Edition’s Google Store listing explicitly states that extended availability is “coming in 2020.”
A grab bag of features found only when playing with Chromecast Ultra is closely related to expanded wireless Stadia Controller support. For example, on the mobile (or web) controller, screen / clip capture is not available, while Android devices can only hear voice chats. On smartphones, there’s no way to respond or even start parties. Likewise, only on the streaming dongle is Assistant available, with achievements not yet accessible on the mobile.
Most of these limitations are likely correlated with the inability of the Stadia Controller to communicate these actions via a cable. Regardless, it’s confusing for people on whatever computer they want to play on expect the same experience.
Mac os, Windows, and Linux gameplay fares better than the mobile operating system of Google. The biggest limitation of the feature is 1080 p-only gameplay, which does not allow users to experience the 4 K promise of Stadia. Another concern is the lack of online settings for “Data usage and quality” or “Display,” though viewing Captures is only mobile — and easy sharing may support both platforms.
Support for more Android and iOS devices
At present, Stadia is limited to the device family Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4. Mid-range phones from Google make it clear that Stadia does not need flagships to operate. What people are really looking for is, of course, iOS and the iPad, specifically. For mobile gameplay, any tablet would be better suited than a phone.
Before launching an AMA, Google noted that it wants “Stadia to run on every screen eventually.” planning to “sstart expanding to more devices next year.”
Android TV support
We heard in September that “Stadia integration” is coming to Android TV with Android 11 in 2020, thanks to a leaked conference presentation. This would be consistent with a drive to offer the service to devices already owned by people.
In-Game Google Assistant
Speaking of Assistant, Google’s cross-device assistance platform on Stadia currently has very limited capabilities. The most important game-related function is to ask for a title to be released. At GDC 2019, Google suggested that when you’re lost, Assistant will find video walkthroughs.
This is probably a task that is more gigantic than it meets the eye. As a matter of principle, Assistant must be aware of what happens in games. This presumably requires developers to create markers in the game, with similar markups being made by YouTubers.
YouTube is also an ambitious integration But Google could require simple streaming of gameplay to begin with. This is oddly lacking for a service the company claimed to be generating an external feed specifically for YouTube.
More broadly by having them support streaming creators with Crowd Connect, there is an ability to leverage the massive gaming community on Stadia. State Play, where people might share a particular scenario and let others replicate or beat a scenario, would also be interesting.
LTE, cellular gameplay
Stadia requires an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection but today there is no clear support for LTE. That said, the workaround with your phone is just making a hotspot and attaching your laptop. The xCloud beta of Microsoft currently supports LTE networks and may aim to optimize Google.
Stadia Store improvements
The Stadia Store badly needs looking at 26 titles with different editions and not just curated pieces. In the meantime, pre-ordering has been proposed, while the functionality of “family” could extend beyond parental control. Even if only one person is allowed to play at a time, there should be the ability to share games.
The Stadia Store’s most important addition, however, would be demos. The first objective is to allow people to test how the platform runs free on their network, and would go a long way to addressing skepticism. Streaming Stadia demos down the road could introduce gamers to new technologies or concepts. Of course, the other reason is to try a title before you buy it.
Stadia Base and Pro monthly subscription
It’s not as easy to enter Stadia as you would expect from a web service. Google clearly wants the first users to have everything they need to experience on a TV with a $129 buy-in.
Stadia Base is expected to arrive in 2020 to allow players to buy games without the need for Stadia Pro. The subscription of $9.99 offers 4K quality a monthly free game, and discounts. It’s a pretty good value, but most are going to make up for 1080p, especially to try out how Stadia works for them.
That said, even more important is some kind of demo experience that would really demonstrate how easy it is to access Stadia when you click on a link.