Google pulls the plug on Stadia

Two and a half years after unveiling Stadia onstage at GDC, the game streaming service is officially done. Subscribers will have access to the games library through January 18 of next year, after which point, it will shut down for good. Google adds in a blog post that it expects to have all refunds for subscribers issued by around that time, as well.

Google had not acknowledged previous struggles with the service. In a tweet dated late-July 2022, the company noted simply, “Stadia is not shutting down. Rest assured we’re always working on bringing more great games to the platform and Stadia Pro.” Google, meanwhile, had taken an aggressive strategy of offering months-long trials in an attempt to build an audience.

“[W] 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,” Stadia VP and GM Phil Harrison notes in the post.

The company is framing a kind of silver lining in the infrastructure it built to bring low-latency game streaming to life. Harrison adds:

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.

While the service received generally good reviews, Google faced an uphill battle, with stiff competition from first-party Sony and Microsoft offerings, as well as Amazon’s similar platform, Luna. Last February, it shut down its own internal development studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, which was created to bring exclusive first-party titles to the platform. Harrison noted at the time, “Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games.”

Some of those employees who remained on the Stadia team will be transferred to other positions inside Google, according to Harrison.