Google kills Stadia and refunds all purchases

A Stadia manager shows the controller on stage at Google's big showcase.

photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Google is closing its Video game streaming service, Stadia, on January 18, 2023, the company announced today. All purchases will be refunded and the technology will continue to be used for YouTube and other parts of the business, but the consumer-facing app and storefront will be shut down forever less than five years after it launched and join the graveyard of other projects Google gave up.

“And while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers is built on a strong technological foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction we expected with users, which is why we’ve made the difficult decision to retire our Stadia streaming service,” Stadia said VP Phil Harrison wrote in a blog post. “We are grateful to the dedicated Stadia players who have been with us from the start. We will refund all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, as well as game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia Store. Players will still have access to their game library and will be able to play until January 18, 2023 so they can complete their final game sessions.”

The gambling industry veteran said the refunds are expected to be completed by mid-January, so take note while Stadia diesthe technology behind it will continue to be available to “industry partners” for other joint ventures, like AT&T’s recent attempt to bring it in Batman: Arkham Knight on smartphones via streaming. Signs that Google was willing to bail have been around for a while, but one of the eyebrow-raising ones was when Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed Mirage would come to Amazon’s Luna service, but not Stadia, the first game in the blockbuster franchise, to do so.

Google spoke of a huge game when Stadia was first unveiled at the 2019 Game Developer Conference, but when the service launched later that year, that was clear it wasn’t ready for prime time. The tech was impressive, but promised features were lacking and the launch library wasn’t very impressive. While Stadia continued to add new games, most had to be bought a la carte, making it a hefty investment for the casual audience it was targeting. Then along came Xbox Game Pass, marrying a massive library with a single monthly fee. Stadia, meanwhile, was reportedly struggling to bring big games to its platform. spend tens of millions to attract titles like Red Dead Redemption 2.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Stadia was doomed from the start. Google’s track record and Stadia’s own past call into question whether it ever properly committed to the ambitious endeavor. Stadia’s first-party studios closed last year, sinking projects that were still in pre-production and leaving some developers who had moved across the country for the company cheated. At that time, kotaku reported that Harrison had told Stadia staff that Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda was one of the reasons for the closures, and had convinced Google that the price of competing in first-party development was higher than it was willing to pay.

“We remain firmly committed to gaming and will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that drive the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and developers,” Harrison wrote in today’s blog post. Google kills Stadia and refunds all purchases

Curtis Crabtree

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