When Google Stadia launched, it promised to be an alternative to traditional gaming. Stadia was a cloud-based gaming service where you could play AAA titles on almost any device over the cloud, regardless if your device was powerful enough.
One difference that separated Stadia from other streaming services is that you have to buy each title individually, even when you are paying for a subscription. In comparison, other services like Xbox Game Pass offer streaming, as well as a library of games that come with the service.
While Stadia had a big library and Google itself behind it, it could not compete with traditional offerings, like PC gaming, Xbox, and Playstation.
It also could not compete with streaming services such as Xbox Cloud Streaming. It seemed inevitable that Google would wind down its gaming offerings. Last February, Google shut down its internal game studios, representing a shift in its business model to focus on streaming.
- Google is shutting down its Stadia streaming service on January 18th, 2023.
- Users will be refunded for all purchases.
- Google Stadia technology will be transferred to other departments.
Stadia also failed to gain a large player base. As of February 2022, it was estimated that Stadia only had a measly 2.5 million subscribers. In comparison, the PlayStation Network has over 100 million active monthly users.
Stadia general manager Phil Harrison wrote about the decision to wind down the service:
For many years, Google has invested across multiple aspects of the gaming industry. We help developers build and distribute gaming apps on Google Play and Google Play Games. Gaming creators are reaching audiences around the world on YouTube through videos, live streaming and Shorts. And our cloud streaming technology delivers immersive gameplay at massive scale.
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.
We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023. We have more details for players on this process on our Help Center.
The underlying technology platform that powers Stadia has been proven at scale and transcends gaming. 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. We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators.
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. 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.”
– Phil Harris, Vice President and General Manager, Stadia
While Google Stadia will shut down, it will not be in vain. Stadia helped bring cloud gaming into the spotlight. Stadia’s streaming technology will likely find use in other projects at Google.
Meanwhile, other competitors such as Amazon and Microsoft continue to grow their streaming offerings. Amazon continues to invest in its similar Luna service and Xbox Cloud Streaming has reached over 10 million users.
Google has spent exorbitant sums of money to get games on Stadia. According to Jason Schreier of Bloomberg, Google spent upwards of tens of millions of dollars to get blockbuster AAA titles on the service.
I reported this last year at Bloomberg but the amount of money Google spent to get games on Stadia is so shocking that I still can hardly believe it, even after corroborating with multiple sources. Tens of millions of dollars PER GAME for Red Dead 2, Assassin's Creed, etc
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) September 29, 2022
With a Stadia subscription costing $9.99 a month, it is easy to see that Stadia was not profitable for Google.
Access to Stadia will end on January 18th, 2023. After which users will not be able to access their accounts or use the service. All users will be refunded, whether they purchased items through the Google Play Store or the Stadia store.
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