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Google Stadia is shutting down, for good

Stadia ends in January

A Google Stadia controller rests on a wood desk next to a black computer keyboard Photo: Google
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Google is officially shutting down its ambitious game streaming project, Stadia, Phil Harrison, the vice president and general manager of Stadia, said in a blog post published Thursday. The announcement comes less than three years after the cloud-gaming console launched.

Stadia will shut down in January 2023.

Harrison said that players who bought Stadia hardware and games will get a refund for their purchases.

“We’re grateful to the dedicated Stadia players that have been with us from the start,” Harrison said. “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.”

Harrison added that the cloud-streaming technology that powered Stadia could power other Google products, and that Google remains “deeply committed to gaming.”

“We see clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts — as well as make it available to our industry partners, which aligns with where we see the future of gaming headed,” Harrison said. “We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators.”

Google Stadia was officially revealed in March 2019, at that year’s Game Developers Conference. The cloud-gaming platform launched in November that year, but without some of the ambitious, promised features that initially made Stadia compelling. In Polygon’s review of the platform, editor in chief Chris Plante wrote, “As a video game console with an entry price of $129, Stadia is immensely disappointing. Many of its high-end features (4K, HDR) don’t work across the entire service, not to mention the many core components of the service that aren’t available at launch.”

At launch, Stadia required players to purchase a Founders Pack, which included a Chromecast Ultra, a Stadia controller, and a three-month Stadia Pro subscription. Twelve games were available on launch day and the service was available in 14 countries.

“As a free service, Stadia could be revolutionary,” we said in our Stadia launch-day review. “My takeaway from this experience is that the magic of Stadia isn’t actually Stadia as a snazzy, new console or platform. The magic of Stadia is that, in theory, a person doesn’t really need to know that Stadia, as an idea, even exists.”

In April 2020, Google relaxed the requirements to play Stadia games, opening up the service to anyone with a Gmail address (as long as they lived in a country where Stadia was available). Users were required to purchase games from Stadia’s own store, or subscribe to Stadia Pro for $9.99 a month to access a list of games.

In 2021, Google confirmed that it was shutting down its internal game studios dedicated to Stadia development, and that Stadia Games and Entertainment vice president Jade Raymond was leaving the company. (Raymond has since established a new studio, Haven Studio, which has been acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment.)

For more details on the shuttering of Stadia, Google has an extensive FAQ.

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