UPDATE: With only a handful of hours until the connect, many things predicted in this article have already been all but confirmed across social media. Features like Crowd Play and Crowd Choice coming to Dying Light, Family Sharing and more have also made social media appearances. It’s time to kick this show off! See you after the Connect!
A new Stadia Connect is scheduled for July 14th at 1pm EST and we’re hoping Google drops the mic with this one. Several of the features and games that have been said to be releasing this year have still yet to see the light of day and after Sony’s impressive Playstation 5 reveal, we think there’s plenty of opportunity for Google to launch into attack mode with its service and lineup. Let’s take inventory on what Stadia is missing and how they can bring the heat this summer.
Features we may see during the Connect
State Share will most certainly take center stage during the event next month. Crayta is a game that has seen a lot of movement lately. From interviews to Youtube gameplay sessions and just moments ago, the official announcement that it will be launching for free for Stadia Pro subscribers on July 1st! According to Crayta’s developer Unit 2 Games, State Share was instrumental in helping the game find its identity.
Crayta allows you to make and play games live with your friends. Moving between creation and play is as simple and easy – it’s all tied together within one universe that grows as you do. We see Crayta blurring the line between players and creators – you can jump into one of the ever-growing list of games with your friends, but you can also hop in and out of your own creations just as easily.
The Stadia team is almost a year behind schedule with offering Family Sharing which will allow you to let those in your Google Family Group to play your games without purchasing them again. Being that this feature was supposed to launch ‘in early 2020’ it’s clear and understandable that its development track must have been offset by the pandemic. Also, the Families page has been updated to include Stadia and Google Support already has step-by-step instructions for setting it up for your children, so we expect to finally have access to this long awaited feature.
Crowd Play allows gamers to jump into a live game with a Youtube streamer and play alongside them simply by pressing a button. You can see in the video below how this works. It’s one of the features I’m most excited for as I feel it may do something to bring streamers back to Youtube one day. It may or may not make an appearance during the Connect, but I imagine it’s not too hard to implement. While I’m unaware of what it takes to roll this feature out, I would imagine it’s just a button you press to add a gamer into a queued lobby for multiplayer.
Alongside Crowd Play, we could also see mention of Crowd Choice which allows Youtubers to poll their viewers in real time on decisions they need to make in the game before carrying them out based on the results. Announced last year, if similar Youtube integration is on its way then it only seems logical to bundle with it at the same time. Just a thought.
By far the most interesting feature that Stadia has promised is the ability to launch Google Assistant for help during gameplay. Doing so will search Youtube for Let’s Play videos and tutorials and even scrub to the part of the video which shows you how to overcome what you’re stuck on. The Stadia controller launched with the Assistant button as a part of the hardware, so I understand why so much attention was drawn to it early on, but I think it was a mistake to wait so long to officially give it to players. I’m continually frustrated that I have a useless button on my controller.
There’s a very interesting reason why we feel we will see Google Assistant during the Connect – Youtube’s new video chapters feature. Not long ago, Youtube started to split videos into chapters that allowed viewers to jump around to relevant information quickly based on timestamps provided by the uploader. This is no doubt a development which was, in some part, fueled by Google’s desire to finally implement Assistant in Stadia. Think about it, all Google needs to do when you press that button on your controller is grab the name of the game you’re playing, the level or area you’re in, the boss you’re fighting or any other relevant data, of course, including your voice query and do a server side Youtube search using it. Then, they can use chapters to dig deeper with AI and machine learning to intelligently take you to the exact point in the video that you need to see. The launch of the chapter’s feature on Youtube seems oddly timely. I think it’s still quite early in its development, not everyone has access to Youtube chapters and Google will need to wait until millions of people provide timestamps, so we think Assistant will be discussed during the Connect, but not released. In fact, the handful of aforementioned features may even appear at the next Connect if Google is still polishing them.
With Stadia’s Premiere Edition receiving a permanent price cut and the third gen Chromecast doing the same, not to mention the fact that Google is working on a new Chromecast which will feature an Android TV interface and a remote control, we predict that Android TV support will be announced during the Connect. This means that Shield TV owners will be able to leave their set top boxes plugged in and not have to find an extra HDMI port for their Chromecast Ultra to play Stadia (can you tell I’m speaking from personal experience?) Those with Android TV built into their TVs won’t have to use any ports! The feature was said to be coming with the roll out of Android 11, which is now in Beta, so this also seems pretty timely.
With more games coming to Stadia, we would like to see a complete overhaul of the Stadia Store. There has been no evidence of this, but scrolling vertically through many games and DLC packs quickly becomes exhausting. There’s a reason why Sony and Microsoft’s cross bar style navigation works on their consoles, so we just wanted to mention this here as well. You can see a bunch of cool conceptual mock ups of Stadia Store redesigns here which are fun to look at while we dream.
We anticipate that with the launch of the new experimental feature in the Stadia apps settings which allows any phone to run it, Google may draw attention to this and brag about it a bit. We won’t complain though – we think that they should be focusing their marketing on the ability to play anywhere at any time instead of on 4K and 60 FPS. If they do, they could see an influx of sign ups.
Games we expect to see during the Connect
Being that Google has been creating game studios left and right and has yet to show anything for it, we expect that we will see at least one first party title trailer or announcement, though not a release during the event. They also appointed Shannon Studstill, ex-Playstation veteran and head of Santa Monica Studios, to lead the new Playa Vista Stadia Games and Entertainment team. Shannon worked on the highly acclaimed PS4 God of War game, so we can expect that Google is planning something big for their upcoming Stadia exclusives.
They’ve also partnered with Splash Damage, developers of Gears of War 5 and Gears Tactics, a few months ago. Although it’s extremely unlikely that we will see a Gears game on Stadia as it’s a first party IP for Microsoft Xbox, a company with such titles under their belt may very well be creating another exclusive for the platform.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we will see gameplay from several upcoming titles during sizzle reels or filler content between announcements as Baldur’s Gate III just received a new trailer and community announcement with early access set for August if all goes well, Windbound and Cristales were just revealed, Orcs Must Die! 3 has been showing off some level design lately on their twitter account, Gods and Monsters leaked on the platform early before being taken down, Wave Break just announced two hours ago that they will launch their game in just a few days and more. We’re just hoping that these things don’t take up the majority of the Connect as we’re already aware of them. Just like you, we want to see first look trailers and exclusives, but there’s no denying these games will be welcome additions to our library.
In addition, as a part of the Summer Games Fest, EA Play Live is happening at 5pm EST today. Our guess is that we’ll see gameplay or trailers of PGA Tour 2K21, which Robby is excited for, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, FIFA, NBA 2K21 and or Madden NFL as EA and Stadia inked a partnership only a few months ago.
“Cloud is opening up exciting new possibilities for play,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said Tuesday in a statement. “In partnering with Google Stadia, we have an opportunity to deliver some creative and innovative game experiences on an exciting new platform.”Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA Games
Other games said to be launching on Stadia before the year’s end include the following and several of them could show up during the Connect:
- F1 2020
- Marvel’s Avengers
- Serious Sam 4
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Destroy all humans remastered
- Windjammers 2
- West of Loathing
- Watch Dogs Legion
- Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- Just Shapes and Beats
Several titles that have recently been announced for other platforms may also show up. The Mafia Trilogy wasn’t exactly announced for Stadia, as we previously reported, but rather it became the victim of Photoshopped images floating around on the internet. However, Mafia 2 and 3 Remastered were officially announced. but it seems odd to leave out the first game’s remake, especially after it received a new narrative trailer last week, so we’re suspicious that 2K and Google will work together to bring the entire trilogy to Stadia instead. Remember, just because a game wasn’t stated to be coming to Stadia during any number of the digital events that are occuring en masse this week, including the Summer Games Fest, that doesn’t mean that they won’t. Stadia is still in its infancy, so it’s likely that many developers are eyeballing the platform and have intentions to port their game over, especially as the process is pretty painless according to Bethesda, but have not yet publicly announced anything.
Alright, wow! That’s quite a bit to chew on. There’s just too much Stadia news to mention here and anything could happen during next month’s Connect. What do you hope to see? Please let us know in the comments below and stay tuned to Gaming Unboxed for all of your mobile and on-the-go gaming news!