Google Stadia was launched on the 19th of November 2019, and next year, on the 18th of January, the service will cease to exist. It has been a remarkably short, expensive, and fruitless journey for Google, as after investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the project, ultimately, there was almost no real return to be seen. Since February 2021, the service and most associated platforms have been winding down, but today’s announcement has proven to be the final nail in the coffin for Google Stadia.
It was revealed in February 2021 that, at launch, Google Stadia had hundreds of thousands fewer players than Google had originally predicted or provisioned for. As the struggles began to surface quite publically, several high-ranking team members working on the project departed the firm. It was in March 2022 that the final positive update was published for the Stadia project, but that seems to have been too little, too late.
On January 18th 2023, Google Stadia services will be shut down for good.
Farewell, Google Stadia
Phil Harrison, the Vice President of Stadia, explained the situation quite clearly in a statement:
‘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.’
He did go on to explain that Google will ‘redeploy’ any relevant existing technology throughout the company. As a product, Stadia reportedly ‘transcends gaming’, and some of the functions and features will be reappropriated, and used on platforms such as YouTube and Google Play. Furthermore, any employees working on the Stadia platform will be relocated, dispersed throughout the company and refocused on other projects.
There were early expectations that the Google Stadia project wouldn’t fare all that well, and now, those expectations have been realised. Unfortunately, this now means that any true, hardcore fans of the Stadia service will be left somewhat out in the cold, but what can be done? Ultimately, the amount of money spent on Stadia is quite staggering, with Google having poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the project.
As part of the mission to acquire more key titles that users could enjoy, Google paid publishers millions to bring certain games on board. However, many of the most popular titles – particularly esports games – never came to the platform. This included the likes of Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, for example.
What Happens To Stadia Users?
As part of the announcement, Google detailed the next steps for any current, remaining users. For instance, the firm outlined how customers can seek refunds on their Stadia subscriptions, stating that even with a refund, customers won’t have to return any hardware. Of course, that includes the proprietary, official controllers that only work with certain devices under specific conditions. There’s always the potential for users to frame their controller, to serve as a memory of days gone by.
Fortunately, there are many other services and platforms that operate with a similar model to Google Stadia, so it isn’t the end of the story. For instance, there’s Nvidia’s GeForce Now service, the Xbox Cloud Play platform, and any one of the handheld, cloud-based gaming options out there. Currently, fans that tend to play on the move are starting to invest in the Steam Deck, which also allows gamers to play wherever they are.
It’s unfortunate news about the Google Stadia platform, but it’s something that, sadly, we all saw coming a long time ago.