Google is shutting down Stadia, its cloud gaming service. The service will remain live for players until January 18th, 2023. Over the course of the shutdown, Google will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchased through the Google Store. That’s a pretty big deal, but that’s not all. The company will also be putting out refunds for all users who bought games and addon content for them, as well.
“A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia,” Stadia vice president and GM Phil Harrison said in a blog post. “And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.”
So why did this happen? For a few reasons, actually. A cloud gaming service from a company with few ties in the gaming industry was going to face growing pains, and oh boy did they. Lacking a huge library of launch titles, the games on offer were pretty lackluster. And it has since come out that Google poured tens of millions into the deals for games on Stadia. These were losses they were never going to recover, as there were just no users that were going to buy the games in the first place.
The launch of both Stadia and Stadia Pro in 2019 was fought with issues. The target demographic for Stadia, which was billed as a Netflix-but-for-games, didn’t really exist. Gamers who would pay for game streaming subs either already had other platforms to game on, or didn’t have the cash to spring for more stuff. Stadia requiring high-speed and low-latency broadband also put a damper on its availability. And even in major metropolitan areas, the games didn’t always play well, being subject to random lag spikes.
Less than six months later, Google was already offering price cuts to its premium edition bundles. That was a sign of things to come it seems, as the Stadia shutdown has come just about two years after launch. And so, another project joins the evergrowing graveyard of closed Google projects.
Harrison says that existing employees will be moved to other projects and teams within the company. Also, Google plans to make use of Stadia tech in other projects, although nothing concrete has been announced.