Stadia was released in 2019 as Google’s attempt to get a piece of the highly profitable gaming market, but the cloud-gaming platform was confusing. It was confused about what it wanted to be, let alone who it was made for. Now, only three years later, Google has announced that the Stadia service is ending, adding another short-lived service to the gravestones on killedbygoogle.com.
The end was announced on Stadia’s blog, where they clarify their reasons as well as what current users can expect:
“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."
The post also makes it clear that all hardware purchases made by the Google Store as well as software purchases made by the Stadia store will be refunded. Players will retain access to their games until January 18, 2023, after which the service will officially shut down.
Anyone who follows gaming discourse saw this coming a mile away.
Stadia was a gaming console that could only play games via cloud streaming. It worked fairly well, but it didn’t have a consistent pricing model that made a hard sell.
You needed a monthly subscription to access a library of games, which led some to describe Stadia as a “Netflix for games" console. However, most of the big third-party titles still had to be purchased separately anyway, which created a lot of confusion.
Stadia placing itself as a cheap console with a cheap subscription would be great for those looking to get into gaming at a more affordable price, but the need to purchase most new titles defeated this purpose. And Stadia’s library of exclusives never offered anything outstanding enough to be worth it on its own, despite securing some critically acclaimed indie titles.
Stadia became even more irrelevant after the Xbox Series S was released in November 2020 – an affordable next-gen console with a giant library of games accessible via Game Pass that also supports cloud streaming. With the benefit of also being able to download your games to play offline, something Stadia could not do.
Now that Stadia is being decommissioned, it seems even the controller that comes with the console will become unusable, despite being made to work with Android devices.
Sadly, a few developers working on games for Stadia received this news in the worst possible way: Twitter.
Many developers shared their frustration at only learning that the platform was ending via Twitter – some of them were still working on games that were meant to be released soon.
Mike Rose from No More Robots posted: “Oh my god (...) We have a game coming to Stadia in November. Who wants to guess that Google will refuse to pay us the money they owe us for it"
Another developer, Pixel Games, said that “after weeks of paperwork and preparation” to bring some of their games to Stadia, they learned that Stadia was shutting down – that was two hours after the deal was done.
Stadia also had secured a few exclusive indie titles for the platform which will now be homeless. Still no confirmation of whether these games will be available on other platforms in the future.
Despite everything, Google has said that they’re not abandoning the gaming market after Stadia. What that means, for now, remains to be seen, but the end of Stadia surprised absolutely no one.
Hopefully, Google tries to work on a product that actually provides a solution or an advantage, rather than a straight downgrade for other available options on the market. And with their track record of abandoning services this quickly, it will take a lot to convince people to adopt whatever their offer.