Some games are played best with friends, and even the ones that aren't can still offer some form of social integration by way of things like streams and chat. Stadia is due to get some pretty robust social features at launch and beyond, starting with things like voice chat and managing friends lists so you can easily see who's online and link up for a game.
This is according to Stadia's Director of Product Andrey Doronichev who hosted Stadia's first official AMA over on Reddit this morning. In an attempt to clarify a few more details about how Stadia will tackle the issue of social interaction on the platform and within games, he notes that at launch, Stadia will support three different social features which are the aforementioned managing of friends lists, as well as platform-level voice chat and the ability to create parties.
All three are important, but the latter two will be particularly useful for games like Destiny 2: The Collection, which is Stadia's first free game and can rely heavily on creating parties for specific content as well as having voice chat to help the entire party organize and navigate through the challenges of harder activities.
Though the social presence on the platform will be kind of light at first Doronichev assures that the Stadia team at Google is working on bringing many more social features to the platform in due time. He states that they have a "healthy pipeline of social features going forward," which means players can expect the social aspect of games to grow quite a bit probably within the first year.
Likely to be among the first new social features added after friends list management, party creation, and platform-level voice chat are ones that focus on safety as it's mentioned that a lot is being invested into this particular area. The safety aspect of social could point to more than a few things, and the whole thing is a bit vague but what is clear is that Google wants Stadia to be a safe platform for everyone to play their favorite games.
There will be no text chat available with Stadia at launch, so if you want to talk with your friends or anyone that you end up playing with then you'll probably need to create a party and enter the voice chat feature to communicate. It might seem odd that text chat isn't included in the service from the start, but when you consider that Stadia was designed to work best with the Stadia controller, or at the very least other HID-compliant controllers, voice chat over text chat makes a little more sense.
Text chat with a controller is awful. If you've ever tried to type up a message to another player in-game using Sony's DualShock 4, moving the cursor back and forth to select each and every letter becomes a huge chore and can take up immense amounts of time. It's nowhere near as quick as typing out a message on a keyboard, and while Stadia will support a mouse and keyboard the majority of people are likely to either play on their TVs or through mobile devices like the Pixel 3 family of smartphones.
With that said text chat is likely something that is planned, even if the Stadia team didn't touch on this in the AMA. Doronichev comfirms that social is a big focus for him and the team so players can probably expect it to show up in the future, and if it is coming down the line, it's likely something that would be showcased on Google's roadmap for Stadia features once that's released.