A Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session today with Google Stadia director of product Andrey Doronichev revealed some further details about the cloud gaming service, as well as gleaned responses to questions about ISPs and the possibility of future service discontinuation.
Doronichev responded to, but was unable to offer specifics about, some of the biggest concerns regarding Stadia, such as what happens if the service is ultimately shut down for one reason or another. A user asking what might happen to their game purchases in such a situation received this response:
"We get this a lot," he wrote. "I hear you. Moving to the cloud is scary. I felt the same way when music was transitioning from files to streaming. I still have all my old CDs in the garage...although it's hard to find a CD player these days :)
"The same happened to Movies and Photos and my Docs and other files...and it's great! Games are no different. Eventually, all of our games will be safely in the cloud too and we'll feel great about it. We've been investing a ton in tech, infrastructure, and partnerships over the past few years. Nothing in life is certain, but we're committed to making Stadia a success.
"The games you buy on Stadia are yours to play. From day one we'll support Takeout so that you can download your game metadata, including saves if you want to.
"Of course, it's ok to doubt my words. There's nothing I can say now to make you believe if you don't. But what we can do is to launch the service and continue investing in it for years to come. Exactly how we've been doing with Gmail, Docs, Music, Movies, and Photos. That's exactly what we're committed to."
Another concern that Doronichev was able to address but not offer specifics on was the issue of ISPs and data caps, which has been brought up as a potential barrier to players given that the service reportedly can use 1TB of data in 65 hours.
Doronichev countered that ISPs would probably adjust themselves accordingly.
"I can't predict the future, but I've seen that ISPs adapted in the past - I saw it when I was at YouTube - and we'd expect that to continue," he said. "For players concerned about data usage we'll definitely have some tools in the Stadia app to manage your data usage to adapt to your unique data situation, but I'm not sure if that will be on day one or a bit later. There's a lot of great ISPs offering plans with 100s of mbps or even gigabits and no caps. We're seeing different progress in different countries and are certainly expecting ISPs to continually improve the services."
Most of the questions in the AMA revolved around features the service would see either at launch or beyond. Doronichev confirmed that Stadia would have games across screens, a friends list, party features, voice chat, and a store at launch, while an achievement system, family sharing features, mod support, and further social features would be planned for later.
He also confirmed that the service would eventually see free-to-play games added to it, though none would be available at launch. This could potentially be key to draw in an audience given that both the platform's free Stadia Base version and its paid Stadia Pro version require users to purchase full-price games to play them - another point Doronichev also touched on.
"To be clear, Stadia Pro is not 'Netflix for Games' like some people have mentioned," he said. "A closer comparison would be like Xbox Live Gold or Playstation Plus." Both Netflix and the mentioned gaming subscription services include content with the subscription fee.