Why Google is closing Stadia and refunding players


The gaming industry has become a graveyard for many big tech companies that venture into it with big dreams of success only to suffer the nightmare of drastic failure.

The latest victim is Google, which will shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service and reimburse gamers. Here’s why.

Google Stadia shuts down

According to a post on The key wordStadia will permanently shut down on January 18, 2023 and refund all players (refund details will be announced later):

A few years ago, we launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia. And while Stadia’s approach to consumer game streaming was built on a solid technology foundation, it didn’t gain the user buy-in we expected, so we made the difficult decision to start. to terminate our Stadia streaming service.

The Stadia platform and game servers will remain online until January 18, 2023:

Players will continue to have access to their game library and play until January 18, 2023 so that they can complete the last game sessions. We will refund all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, as well as all purchases games and additional content made through the Stadia store. We expect the majority of refunds to be complete by mid-January 2023.

Additionally, Google has disabled all in-game commerce transactions. However, most games will continue to play normally.

Players won’t have to return the hardware for a refund, so it’s a complete loss for Google. Stadia Pro subscriptions are not eligible for refunds, but players won’t have to pay any additional fees.

Why is Google killing Stadia?

While there are several reasons why cloud gaming shouldn’t go mainstream, there are specific reasons why Stadia failed.

1. Stadia’s disastrous launch

Google launched and marketed Stadia without key features like Family Sharing, support for wireless controllers on phones or PCs, Buddy Pass, and Crowd Play. In other words, Stadia launched without the ability to play against or collaborate with family and friends.

First impressions are everything, especially in the gaming community. Once word got out that Stadia was launching without these key features, players didn’t sign up.

2. Disadvantages of the Internet

Stadia required players to have an internet connection of at least 35 Mbps for 4K resolution and 60FPS, or 10 Mbps for 720p and 60FPS. While it’s true that this level of internet connection is available to many people, the harsh reality is that many players aren’t exactly swimming in the money.

For many, data caps on internet access prohibit unlimited streaming (cloud gaming eats up a lot of data per hour). A budget Android gamer has a slew of Android games that don’t need the internet at all, which should have given the Stadia team reason to think.

Second, if your internet connection is unreliable, your gaming experience is unreliable. And if your device does not support 4K, then your game quality is limited.

Overall, these drawbacks have made Stadia uncompetitive against consoles and devices that host high-resolution games locally, significantly limiting mass adoption.

3. Weak Game Library

Stadia launched without strong exclusive titles. The situation escalated when Google shut down Stadia’s in-house development studio and lost its top game development executives.

Stadia ended up relying on third-party title developers no one really cared about, and it continued to have a weak library throughout its short lifespan. Blockbuster titles like Minecraft and Fortnite weren’t interested in Stadia because they were already available elsewhere. As a result, few players were attracted to Stadia.

4. Costs

Stadia was charging players a subscription fee of $9.99/month, or $99.99/year, and on top of that, players had to buy games at full price. This made no sense to gamers, who would rather pay full price for a game they will own forever on their console or PC.

In addition to this, streaming services such as PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass offer much better value for money compared to Stadia, in addition to their much better developed ecosystems.

As the BBC Remarks:

What works for Xbox and PlayStation is hard to replicate when their customers have already shelled out consoles and subscriptions – and the companies behind them, Microsoft and Sony, have struck lucrative deals with the world’s biggest game publishers.

Stadia never stood a chance

According Business Intern (content behind the paywall), Google Stadia only had around 750,000 monthly active users in 2020, apparently missing Google’s goal of one million monthly active users. It’s really mediocre when compared to rivals such as Xbox Live (Statistical) and PlayStation Network (Statistical), whose monthly active users had reached or surpassed the 100 million mark by that time.

Google, which is known for ruthlessly killing unsuccessful products, had to give up catching up anytime soon and pull the plug. Stadia didn’t stand a chance.

Google’s failure won’t stop others

Google’s failure won’t stop others from trying. There is simply too much money to be made with games.

The latest big tech entrant is Netflix, which has set up its own games studio in Finland. Will Netflix avoid the gaming graveyard that has claimed many of its big tech counterparts and achieve lasting success?

Only time will tell.


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