Google’s Stadia video game streaming service winds down after three years and cool reception from gamers
- Stadia ‘hasn’t gained the traction with users’ that Google expected and service will end on January 18, the company announced
- The cloud gaming platform was Google’s answer to consoles from giants like Microsoft, but users balked at paying full price for titles stored online
Google said it will terminate services for Stadia, its troubled cloud gaming service, after it failed to gain traction with players almost three years after its launch.
“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,” Phil Harrison, Stadia vice-president and general manager, wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “So we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.”
Players will be able to access their games library and play through January 18. Google will refund Stadia hardware purchases, games and add-on content made through the Google Store, Harrison said.
Stadia debuted in November 2019 with popular third-party franchises including Destiny 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But Google’s ultimate goal was to pack Stadia with original content and the company hired hundreds of game developers from Montreal and Los Angeles. They didn’t have long to ramp up before Google shuttered its in-house game development in early 2021. People familiar with the studio said at the time that the rule-bound tech giant struggled to foster an environment nurturing to video game development, which is interdisciplinary and can be chaotic. The impact of Covid-19 spurred a hiring freeze at Google, which presented challenges for staffing up the division.
Gamers also chafed at the idea that games they purchased for US$60 a piece didn’t feel like they belonged to them, since they were stored in the cloud – a concern validated by Thursday’s shutdown notice. Accustomed to owning their own hardware, some gamers felt like Stadia appeared too jarring of a shift. The service missed its sales targets on controllers and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands, Bloomberg has reported.