Here's Why Google Stadia Was Killed

Google has announced that its Stadia cloud gaming service will be shut down early next year. This is potentially bad news for the people currently using the platform, as some of them may have no other way to play modern games. Gaming hardware is expensive. A new console can set you back more than $500, and PC gaming is even more expensive than that. Then when you have a decent gaming rig, you end up spending even more money keeping it up to date. 

This is where services like Stadia come in. A subscriber pays a monthly fee, then they get enough virtual computing power to run the latest games over the cloud. The list of games is limited to those on the particular platform, but in theory, it's better than nothing.

Stadia launched in November of 2019 and the platform, along with its accompanying hardware, was pretty well received. Some of the more positive reviewers cited the service's speed, versatility, and quality of the official hardware. It basically did what it said on the tin, and turned almost anything including an older laptop into a very good gaming PC. At the time, the only similar service was offered by Sony — so not only did Google have a semi-monopoly, but it also had a solid product filling that void.

But not everyone was positive. SlashGear's Eric Abent pointed towards the long list of Google products that have looked good on paper, received substantial backing, and ultimately failed. He predicted that Stadia may one day join this list, and a few years later has been proven right.

The platform will shut down early next year

Despite the promising start, Stadia's time on this earth is coming to an end. Google says it is "winding down" Stadia because the platform simply isn't popular enough, or as they put it: "hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected." Reading into the statement, we can only assume that Google anticipated the platform would have a far larger user base by now, and while the company may not have needed it to generate a profit, it is obviously at a point where the amount of money it is losing is unsustainable. 

Google plans to finally kill the platform off on January 18, 2023, so its users have time to "complete final play sessions." While the exact financial numbers behind Stadia aren't known, we can say the game streaming platform will have gotten a lot more expensive for Google by then.

The tech giant has said it will refund users for all of the game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store, as well as all of the Stadia hardware they purchased. The majority of these refunds are expected to be completed by the time Google pulls the plug on Stadia.

Stadia will live on, sort of

While the collapse of the project can be seen as a huge loss, Google isn't convinced that Stadia is a complete write-off and intends to scavenge some of the tech the streaming platform uses for other projects. The company says it sees a space for some of Stadia's tech on YouTube, Google Play, and its Augmented Reality projects. Google's third-party partners will also be able to use the remnants of the platform. Stadia's staff aren't all being laid off either, with Google claiming that "many" of the Stadia team members will be taking up roles in other parts of the company.

So while Stadia may not have worked out as Google intended, you could argue there are no real losers. People that never bothered with the format may see bits of it in the other Google products they use. Most of the staff that worked on it can put their expertise to good use elsewhere. And Stadia's customers get what may be a significant lump of cashback — which they could put towards a physical gaming PC, or use to get their cloud gaming fix elsewhere.

Other cloud gaming services are still available

If former Stadia users don't want a physical PC, there are other options available. The cloud gaming platform may soon be gone forever, but it's far from the only show in town. Sony's PlayStation Plus Premium cloud gaming service launched at around the same time as Stadia and is still going strong. If you're on the other console wars team, don't worry, Xbox also has a cloud streaming service of its own. 

Despite both being based around popular console libraries, the services are quite different. Amongst other things, Sony has the more extensive library on offer, with over 700 games available. Xbox Game Pass is more limited, with around 100 titles available to play, but that shorter list does include day one releases.

If you're more of a PC gamer, NVIDIA's GeForce Now is the service for you. Instead of being limited to the library, your streaming service includes NVIDIA's cloud gaming option allows you to play your own collection of PC games on most devices. So if you have an extensive Steam library, but you're lacking the hardware you need to run it, this service, which starts from just $10 a month, is an obvious choice. Finally, we have a company that has its fingers in as many pies as Google. Amazon's Luna cloud gaming service is still in its infancy but promises to make an extensive library of games available on a wide range of devices.