Google has announced that their cloud streaming platform Stadia will be shuttered on Jan. 18, 2023. Those who purchased Stadia hardware through the Google Store or bought games on the service will receive full refunds by mid-January. In a blog post, the Vice President and General Manager of Stadia, Phil Harrison, explained that the platform is being wound down because “it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected.”
Google Stadia was announced at GDC 2019 and was released on Nov. 19 of that year. Like other cloud streaming platforms, it hypothetically allowed users to play games running on a distant Google server over the internet instead of on local hardware. In theory, this would give players access to expensive hardware without needing to pay for the rig outright. Of course, the problem is that a fast and stable internet connection is necessary to make this setup tenable, which simply isn’t available in many regions of the world, including parts of the United States. Playing on a slow connection would mean significant input lag, making many titles borderline unplayable. On top of this, instead of bundling content through a subscription plan, like movie and television streaming services tend to do, you had to buy most games outright on Stadia. Google also reportedly had to pay publishers millions to get their games on their service at all, making it easy to see why the endeavor was likely bleeding money.
Stadia joins numerous other projects that Google has invested millions in and scrapped over the years, such as Google Glass and Google+. Meanwhile, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nvidia all have ongoing cloud gaming platforms.