It Had A Run
Google announced in a blog post today that they will be discontinuing their Stadia streaming service effective January 18th, 2023. This means the service will be just over three years old when it shuts down for good and players are no longer able to access their libraries.
It could be handled worse. Google has promised a full refund to players for all hardware purchased directly through Google, as well as for all games and DLC purchases made over the service. The store to purchase games has shut down immediately, so you won’t be able to try it out late and effectively play games for free if you don’t already have them on Stadia. Players will not be refunded for subscriptions to the Stadia Pro service which provided increased resolution and a catalog of free games, but they won’t be charged for it any further and will still be able to play all games in their free catalog until the service is fully discontinued.
In that blog post Stadia Vice President and General Manager Phil Harrison said, “A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. 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.”
Harrison did promise that Google has other ideas for how to use the streaming technology pioneered by Stadia, which has mostly performed well, but they are done using it as a direct to consumer gaming service.
This news will come somewhat expectedly for many players. Google shut down their internal Stadia developers last year and while they insisted at the time that it didn’t mean the death of the service, it was easy to see the writing on the wall. Google had an uphill climb with many from the start because they have a long history of starting new services, pouring a ton of money into them, and then giving up on them if they don’t find incredibly quick success. Services and products such as Google Play Music, Google Glass, Google+, and Google Reader are just a few of the services they’ve hyped up before shutting them down. There are entire websites dedicating to chronicling everything they’ve shut down. While the idea of streaming definitely still has an appeal, with Microsoft finding some success with their streaming options available to Game Pass members, Stadia will be only a footnote in any history of the medium.
As a way to say goodbye, you can watch the initial reveal of Stadia from GDC 2019 below. It does a great job of showing why some thought this technology could be amazing in the right hands, even if those hands didn’t end up being Google’s.