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Family Link preps for Google Stadia, revealing new details [APK Insight]

We’re now just over three weeks away from the official launch of Stadia, Google’s game-streaming service that will allow playing games in up to 4K on a device as low-powered as even a Chromecast Ultra. In preparation for the launch, Google Family Link has updated its app to be ready to handle parents/guardians approving and purchasing Stadia games for their children.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in case they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Earlier this year, we discovered that Family Link would be deeply integrated with Google Stadia, with hints in the code about parental controls to approve specific games for children and receiving certain Stadia notifications. Five months later, and less than a month away from the launch of Stadia, Family Link 1.49 has added a great deal more strings and code related to the game streaming service.

Stadia game approval

Building on what we had seen before, Family Link 1.49 adds a variety of strings detailing precisely what info parents and guardians will be given when asked to approve or deny a particular Google Stadia game for their child. Among the broader list, there are a few standouts that hint at certain aspects of Stadia.

The existence of “Accessibility” as a heading hints that Stadia may be aware of the different accessibility options offered in each game, such as color-blindness adjustments and subtitles. Meanwhile, “Input” seems to suggest that not every game will be compatible with every type of control method. Given the existence of Just Dance for Stadia, though, this was to be expected.

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_accessibility”>Accessibility</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_input”>Input</string>

Unfortunately, Stadia can’t help the fact that not every game will be available in every country. Some games will have limitations based on the languages added and even on what region you’re in. Hopefully this region limitation doesn’t affect those traveling internationally, but it’s too early to know.

Update 10/29: As noted in the comments, the Stadia FAQ clearly states that “games purchased on Stadia will be playable in all 14 launch countries regardless of where they were purchased.” This guarantees that there will be no region locks, but does not necessarily guarantee that every country will have every game for purchase.

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_regions”>Available in</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_languages”>Languages</string>

It’s also interesting to see that Stadia shows the distinction between a game’s (Stadia) release date and its original release on other platforms. For the (many) games that were released elsewhere before being ported to Stadia, these two dates will be different, and it’s nice of Google to draw attention to that fact.

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_original_release”>Original release</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_release_date”>Release date</string>

The rest of the list seems to be your standard fare for a game’s store/information page.

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_additional_details”>Additional game details</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_consent”>Parental consent</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_description”>Description</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_details”>Game details</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_developer”>Developer</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_genre”>Genre</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_play_modes”>Players</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_publisher”>Publisher</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_rating”>Age rating</string>

Stadia “family library”

Family Link 1.49 also adds some strings expanding on the idea of having a family library of Stadia games. Despite using the term “family library,” we can’t yet take this as confirmation that Stadia will allow sharing games between family members like the Play Store’s Family Library does.

Google could simply mean this to be the library of Stadia games that have been previously approved or blocked for members of your family. This is especially implied in its initial description as, “These are games you’ve already approved for {PERSON}.”

<string name=”yeti_settings_family_library_title”>Review games</string>

<string name=”yeti_family_library_list_header”>Review Stadia games</string>

<string name=”yeti_family_library_list_description”>{GENDER, select, other {These are games you’ve already approved for {PERSON}. Choose if you’d like to block access to any of these games. They can always be re-enabled.}}</string>

However, there are strings that discuss a game being in the family library list, yet also “not available to allow or block” based on its content rating and your family settings.

<string name=”yeti_family_library_content_rating_title”>Game restricted by content rating.</string>

<string name=”yeti_family_library_content_rating_description”>This game is not available to allow or block because your content rating setting already restricts access to this game.</string>

While this raises hopes for Google Stadia to allow family sharing, these strings could also simply be there for a situation where a child’s maximum allowed content rating is bumped downward. For example, if a child owns a T-rated game then gets their maximum content level set to E-rated games.

Stadia + Google Pay

Once a parent has approved of a game for their child, there’s still the matter of paying for it. One thing that hasn’t been made explicitly clear about Google Stadia up to this point is how games are paid for.

A code snippet within Family Link 1.49 hints that Stadia games will (or at least can) be paid for using Google Pay, as there is a call to the “Wallet Client for Google Play services” that ties into Google Pay. This isn’t particularly a surprise, but it’s at least nice to have the detail confirmed.

Stadia friends list permission

In an extremely privacy-friendly and family-respecting move from Google Stadia, according to new strings in Family Link 1.49, parents will be able to decide whether a game’s publisher will be allowed to see their child’s friends list. According to the text, this information is typically used to improve the multiplayer experience, and it can be toggled on or off at anytime from the Stadia website.

It’s interesting to note that this approval is given on a per-publisher basis, not a per-game basis.

<string name=”stadia_approval_consent_info”>”Allow {PUBLISHER} to access your child’s Stadia friends list to offer certain multiplayer and social features within their games. You can change this privacy setting anytime at {STADIA_URL}. \n\n{LEARN_MORE} about how your child’s data is used.”</string>

<string name=”stadia_approval_consent_description”>By clicking approve, you agree to the Stadia {STADIA_TERMS_OF_SERVICE}. The {GOOGLE_PRIVACY_POLICY} and the {STADIA_PRIVACY_NOTICE} describe how Google handles Stadia data.</string>

<string name=”stadia_approval_already_consented”>You previously allowed this publisher to access your child’s Stadia friends list. You can change this setting anytime at {STADIA_LINK}.</string>

Stadia game bundles

One common feature of game marketplaces is the ability to buy multiple games or a game and some of its add-ons as a bundle. Family Link 1.49 shows us that the Stadia store will also offer bundles, according to a pair of strings. It’s too early to know what sorts of bundles the Stadia store will offer at launch, if any, but they’re certainly planned for the future.

Any parent or guardian will be able to see what precisely is included with a particular bundle before giving their approval.

<string name=”yeti_approvals_list_bundles_header”>Bundles</string>

<string name=”yeti_approval_section_title_bundle”>Included with this bundle</string>

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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