Recently, Google announced that it will be bringing Stadia to an end. Stadia was Google’s game streaming service. With the purchase of a controller and a Chromecast, users could take advantage of GPUs in the cloud to play their games. To use the service, there was both a monthly fee for access and games had to be individually purchased. The cancellation comes at a time closely following reports that Sundar Pichai told employees of plans for cost cuts to make Google more profitable[src]. Google also released a blog post [src] stating that the service didn’t get the traction they had hoped.
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.
I’m in possession of a number of Stadia units myself. Speaking only for myself, it didn’t have faith in the product. I carry skepticism of online-only games, having lost games to smaller incidents before. One of the first XBox 360 games I had purchased online became inaccessible to my other Xbox’s when the publisher left the store. I’ve had other games that installed locally that have become less functional or completely non-functional because a server was taken offline. When I do purchase an app or a game, I do so knowing that the app could become unusable and unavailable. I don’t mind paying small amounts for what I see as temporary access to a game or app. But paying $60 for a game that could essentially evaporate out of my account was not comfortable for me. Nor was the ongoing 10 USD/month I’d pay for access to the game.
I don’t know why other people might not have jumped on board. Especially with the component shortage making the acquisition of Xbox and PlayStation challenging. Those units have been out for two years and we still are not in a place where someone can walk into a retail store and have high confidence that there will be a unit on the shelf to pickup and purchase.
What does this all mean for those that may have purchased games? The outcome financially is most favourable. They are getting a refund from Google.
We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start. We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023. We have more details for players on this process on our Help Center.
The Chromecasts of course are still very usable and functional. The controllers themselves are, as far as I can tell, e-waste now. Out of curiosity, I looked up the Stadia in the Google Store. It is still listed on the store with no ability to make a purchase.
I very much wish that Google would release the source code or some other information so that the community could make the controllers useful. But since they are giving full refunds, I don’t think that they will be doing much more. The only things that people might have lost is their saved games (for games that do not support progress cross play, as Destiny did). According to a post on Reddit, Google did acknowledge the desire for the controllers to remain useful after the shutdown. But no promises were made [src].
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