The days of Google Stadia are officially numbered. A new blog post by Google Vice-President and Stadia General Manager Phil Harrison said that “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,” prompting Google’s decision to begin winding down the service. Stadia’s end comes on January 18, 2023, less than four years after its public launch on November 19, 2019.
Harrison thanked players that supported Google Stadia, and promised that it would refund customers that purchased hardware through the Google Store and content through the Stadia Store. Though Stadia was a game streaming service that was largely independent of device selection, players could purchase a special Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra for an optimized experience. Players will still have access to their game library until January 18th, and Google expects to complete the refunds by mid-January 2023. According to an FAQ, The only purchases not eligible for a refund are Stadia Pro subscriptions. Stadia Pro is a paid tier of the service that unlocked a “free” game library similar to Xbox Game Pass or PS Plus Game Catalog.
While the consumer-facing part of the service is on its way out, Harrison noted that the technology platform powering it is proven and has further use outside games. This was the writing on the wall, in fact, when Google shut down its in-house development studios in early 2021. At the time it said that it would offer Stadia as a platform for third parties to build on. If Stadia has a legacy, it’s of spurring competition in the game streaming space. In the wake of its announcement, platforms like Microsoft and Sony beefed up their offerings, such as with Xbox Cloud Gaming and the folding of PlayStation Now into the PS Plus subscription tiers. Amazon launched its own Luna service in 2020, and services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now are key to new cloud gaming-oriented hardware.
Google Stadia ends service on January 18, 2023.