Stadia will be launching this November under the Pro subscription plan, but Google will offer online multiplayer to all Stadia subscribers for free, according to Stadia's Phil Harrison who says the goal is to let anyone who subscribes to the service pay together online without requiring users to pay upfront before they get this capability.
The catch is that Google isn't initially offering Stadia Base which is the free version of the service. This won't be launching until sometime in 2020 which means the only way to access Stadia's online multiplayer at the time of its launch is to pay the $9.99 a month for Stadia Pro.
Still, this means that unlike Sony's PS Plus or Xbox's Games With Gold subscriptions, eventually you'll be able to participate in online multiplayer games without an associated cost. This is driven by Google's vision for keeping Stadia as social a gaming platform as possible, and to that end it's even reportedly working on adding in some additional social interaction features for the service in the future.
Harrison doesn't allude to what those additional social features would be but he does highlight that he believes social interactions are a big part of gaming these days, noting that he and the rest of the Stadia team believe that social is really at the heart of multiplayer gaming which is a big part of why there's such a big focus on it with the service.
Players will be able to do things like share their best gaming moments at any point in time during gameplay by pressing the specific "share" button that's located on the controller, which will be one social feature that should be available right from the start.
Stadia is being hailed as a game streaming service that you'll be able to use for playing games on just about any screen from just about anywhere so long as you have an internet connection, and the company was forthcoming with the fact that this would be a little bit more limited in the beginning as not all planned devices will support Stadia at launch.
One of these devices is now confirmed to be Android TV according to a Stadia Community Manager named GraceFromGoogle answering questions over on Reddit. The only way to play Stadia on your tv once the service goes live in a few months will be to have a Chromecast Ultra hooked up to it, so if you want to play on a bigger screen you'll need this device.
Luckily, if you're planning to get this service at launch, the best way to do so will be with the Founder's Edition Bundle which comes with a Chromecast Ultra included, and users with Android TV devices may end up with Stadia support in the future as more compatible options are planned at some point.
For the time being, you'll be able to play games through Stadia using your tv and a Chromecast Ultra, a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a, your tablet, your laptop, or your desktop. The only uncertain device supported at launch is the tablet as Google did not mention which tablet would be compatible. In addition to online multiplayer, Google also plans to add publisher-specific subscriptions to Stadia at some point.