Google Stadia’s launch has been a little bit underwhelming, to say the least. Certainly the streaming service is able to provide a solid 4K60 stream (if not actually 4K60 games), but a lot of the features promised by Google weren’t ready from day one.
Yesterday saw them flip the switch on one of them, turning on Google Assistant support in a limited form. When playing via the Chromecast, you can now tap the button on the Stadia homescreen and ask Stadia to launch a game for you. Yup, that’s it.
The interaction is currently limited to playing via the Chromecast on a TV or monitor, and not available through the smartphone app or browser play on stadia.com.
With a dedicated button on the controller, the intention is that you’ll be able to tap it and ask Google questions, such as for info about the game your playing, to search for a guide or Let’s Play video of the section of the game you’re playing, and plenty more. At launch, none of this was available, but Google are effectively dropping this feature into Early Access. The earliest form of Early Access.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got an Xbox One, you can enable Google Assistant interactions via a connected phone or Google Home smart speaker. Through that, you can not only launch games, but turn the console on and off, control videos being played, change the volume, capture gameplay, and so on. It’s funny to think that you can currently do a whole lot more with Google Assistant on a rival’s system.
The change came to light through part of a Community Update post on Reddit, detailing some of the issues the company are looking at:
- Final Fantasy XV — A number of users are reporting issues pertaining to saved games not working properly on Final Fantasy XV. The team is aware of it and we’re working on a fix.
- Founder code redemption — There have been some questions surrounding the redemption period for Founder codes. Founder codes are valid for one year after you receive it in your inbox.
- Destiny 2 on Stadia Pro — Some players have asked about the availability window for Destiny 2 on the Stadia Pro subscription. Destiny 2 will remain available for the foreseeable future, but in the event that the availability is set to change, we will do our best to notify you all ahead of time.
As I said, the launch and rollout for Stadia hasn’t exactly been that refined for end users, with an awful lot of features missing on day one. There are no achievements, no access to the free Buddy Pass to gift three months of Stadia Pro to a friend, no storefront, no family sharing, and no Stream Connect (a feature that lets you interact or work within another player’s game in real time). There’s also no real timeframe for when users could expect to see them activated, and given that Google Assistant is implemented in such a simplistic initial form, it could be a while.
The company have had other problems, such as announcing two free games for December and then having to offer refund to those who bought Tomb Raider or Farming Simulator. Oh, and there’s the little matter of games like Destiny 2 and Red Dead Redemption 2 being nowhere near the seeming promise of 4K60 gaming on the service.
“Stadia is a wonderful streaming tech demo that gives us an idea of the patch-free, download-free future we could be living in, but little more,” said Dom in our 6/10 review. “For anyone beyond those who simply must try out the newest piece of technology, it’s probably worth waiting for 2020 to really see how Google’s vision of our gaming future pans out.”