Google is shutting down its Stadia streaming service, the company announced in a blog post. All hardware and software purchases will be refunded, and people who bought games on the platform will be able to play and access them until January 18, 2023. After that, Google will no longer sell games on the platform.
“A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia,” Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison wrote. “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.”
Further in the announcement, Harrison wrote that the tech powering Stadia would likely live on in YouTube, Google Play, and whatever it has cooking in augmented reality. He also said that “we remain deeply committed to gaming” and that the company will continue to invest in and build new tools. “Many” employees on Stadia will be moving into other parts of Google, according to the blog post.
Stadia, built on custom AMD GPUs, launched in 2019 to tepid reviews and never really caught on. Google had several efforts to make its own games, but it shut down in-house development studios and instead focused on a white-label version of Stadia that partners could use. Stadia vice president Jade Raymond’s leaving was a big blow to Google making its own games, and she has since launched a new studio, Haven Studio, which Sony bought.
“It’s… tough to justify paying $10 per month for the service as it stands and games ranging for $30 to $60 on top of it,” I wrote in my review of the service in November 2019, when the service launched without all of its promised features. “Google’s feature set, the stuff that makes Stadia most compelling, isn’t here yet,” I added.
Features were added during Stadia’s lifecycle, including instantly streaming demos, but none of them breathed new life into the project.
Google returning the funds used to buy the software helps soften the blow. Some potential users were worried that by buying games on a nascent streaming service, their entire library could disappear if Google shut it down. That is coming true, but at least Google is refunding those who bought games. Competitors’ streaming services work differently; Nvidia’s GeForce Now uses games you bought on Steam or other supported services. Xbox Game Pass has streaming models in some tiers but also acts similarly to Netflix, with games coming on and off.
Google has published a complete FAQ about Stadia’s shuttering, covering the specifics of refunds.
According to killedbygoogle.com, Stadia will be the 274th project shuttered by the company in January. (Assuming another project doesn’t beat it to the punch.)