Google is shutting down Stadia, with the beleaguered cloud gaming service set to remain live for players until 18th January 2023.
Stadia's misfortunes are, of course, well-documented; despite initial praise for the service's streaming capabilities at launch in 2019, a slow, problematic roll-out meant Google failed to capitalise on initial consumer interest. The extent of Stadia's failings started to became clear when the company announced it was closing its first-party game development studios less that 14 months after launch, with subsequent reports claiming the streaming platform was missing its targets for monthly active users by hundreds of thousands.
And while Google continued to insist Stadia was "alive and well" as 2021 progressed, reports claimed it had "deprioritised" the consumer-facing side of its game streaming platform, having largely shifted its focus to selling the services' underlying technology to third-parties.
And now, as Stadia's three year anniversary in November approaches, Google has finally pulled the plug. "While Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation," Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison wrote in a new blog post announcing the news, "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."
However, while Stadia's consuming-facing operations will cease in January, Harrison says Google will continue offering its game-streaming tech to industry partners. "The underlying technology platform that powers Stadia has been proven at scale and transcends gaming," he explained. "We see clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts - as well as make it available to our industry partners, which aligns with where we see the future of gaming headed."
In light of today's news, Google says it will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, as well as all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. It expects to have "the majority" of refunds completed by mid-January 2023, and more details are available via its Help Centre.
"For the Stadia team, building and supporting Stadia from the ground up has been fueled by the same passion for games that our players have," said Harrison. "Many of the Stadia team members will be carrying this work forward in other parts of the company. We’re so grateful for the groundbreaking work of the team and we look forward to continuing to have an impact across gaming and other industries using the foundational Stadia streaming technology."