Google has announced that the company will close its Stadia cloud gaming service and refund existing players.
When Google launched Stadia less than three years ago, it announced that it would be a “Netflix for games”. However, the gaming service has failed to capture the imagination of gamers and the company will now cut its losses by closing Stadia in January 2023.
Although Stadia was unique in the sense that it allowed players to stream games online without owning a console, it never quite caused the gaming revolution Google hoped. Ultimately, Google has stated that the service will come to an end because of a lack of “traction” with gamers.
Any gamer that purchased a Stadia controller will be refunded by Google, as will gamers who purchased any games or add-on content. It’s estimated that all gamers will receive their refunds by mid-January 2023.
Announcing the closure of the service, Phil Harrison, vice-president and general manager of Stadia said “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.”
The end of Stadia – the view from Spike
Google now has a reputation for being ruthless about cutting products or services that under-perform expectations. After all, the website killedbygoogle.com now lists more than 270 different discontinued Google services, products, devices and apps.
Stadia was launched to great fanfare and acclaim in 2019 and many industry experts firmly believed that it would help Google establish itself in the gaming market. This is because, at face value at least, Stadia went beyond simply streaming games and even came with its own bespoke hardware.
However, Google potentially underestimated the might of gaming giants such as Xbox and PlayStation, who have both cultivated relationships with gamers over decades. On top of this, the firms behind them (Microsoft and Sony respectively) have spent a similar period of time putting lucrative deals in place with the world’s biggest games publishers.
That said, Google’s decision to exit the market does not mean that Microsoft and Sony’s hegemony will remain unchallenged. This is because Netflix has announced that the company is taking a more traditional move into the gaming market – establishing a studio to make games.