The Stadia Reddit AMA is going on right now and the biggest question on everyone’s mind heading into the session was clearly asked in about 100 different ways: “If my Founders Edition isn’t set to arrive until after the launch date, when can I start actually playing?” The answer is clear, and you might not like what Google is saying.
First, we all need to remember a couple things. First off, Stadia is a new gaming platform. Much like XBOX, PlayStation or Switch, everyone can’t get everything they want on day one. With consoles, people pre-order and many don’t get in on day one. It’s just the way things are. Stadia is shaping up to be no different in this regard, and that’s a tad bit of a shame. We’ve seen all the reports of people getting shipping dates later in November for their Founders Edition kits and many are frustrated, but those who were first to order are looking likely to get their kits delivered sometime on November 19th.
Second, we all need to remember that Stadia isn’t tied to a console you need to physically have in hand to play. Chromebooks, Windows laptops or Macbooks will be fully capable of running Stadia right away, but there is a catch and it is one that stings a bit. Google has made it clear in the AMA that invite codes that come with your Founders Edition won’t be sent out to users until their physical kit ships. Once your’s has been marked as shipped, you will also be receiving your code to get started. While this is good in terms of not having to wait for the mail man to deliver your physical devices in order for you to play, it does mean that not everyone will get this email on day one.
I was lucky enough to get in early enough that I’m in the shipment batch slated to arrive on November 20-21, so mine will likely ship on the 19th. However, I know there are many out there that will have to wait it out a few more days or even weeks before getting that precious invite code via email. I fully understand logistics of shipping out hardware can get tricky, but I don’t understand Google’s decision to hold out on that invite code at all. Why not just send out the invite codes to every Founders Edition purchaser first thing on the 19th? Even better, why not send them out right now and simply open up Stadia to accept them when ready?
I’m sure there are reasons, but for a company looking to upend an established way of doing things, a more though-out launch would have gone a long way to instilling confidence in new users. Instead, this feels like a retread of the way things have always been with new game consoles: slow roll outs, questionable availability, and longer-than-needed wait times. With a gaming platform based on the cloud, it all just feels like a missed opportunity. I know everyone will eventually be in and playing, but I was hoping for a bit better from the folks at Stadia on this part.