Kris Holt

Google is (unsurprisingly) closing Stadia in January

Despite claims to the contrary as recently as JulyGoogle is switch off its Stadia game streaming service after just three years. The company says players will still have access to their games and can play them until January 18, 2023. After that, Stadia will join the long, long list of products that have been killed by google.

Those who have invested money in Stadia will be fully refunded. “We will refund all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, as well as all game and add-on purchases made through the Stadia store,” said Stadia Vice President and General Manager Phil Harrison. written in a blog post. “We expect the majority of refunds to be complete by mid-January 2023. We have more details for players on this process on our Help Center.”

The Stadia store is now closed, so you can no longer make new purchases. In-game transactions have also been disabled. Google says it’ll handle most refunds automatically, and you won’t have to return most Stadia hardware (so at least some people will get a free Chromecast Ultra from this mess). During this time, Google will not refund Stadia Pro subscriptions. If you have an active subscription as of today, the company won’t charge for access to your game library or other Pro features until Stadia shuts down.

The reasoning behind the “difficult decision” is not surprising. Google said the service “didn’t gain the traction with users we expected.” It’s a shame, though, because the streaming technology at Stadia’s core works just fine and the service had a passionate, if ultimately small, community. The decision leaves Xbox Game Pass, NVIDIA GeForce Now and Amazon Luna as the vanguards of cloud gaming for now.

It looked like the writing was on Stadia’s wall when Google closed its in-house game development studios at the start of last year. There have been other indications in recent months that Google is transferring resources from Stadia to focus on licensing the underlying technology to other companies. We’ve seen this in practice over the past year or so, with AT&T offering its subscribers the ability to play Batman: Arkham Knight and Control no additional cost. Capcom used Stadia technology to a streaming demo of Resident Evil Village as well.

In March, Google officially announced Immersive stream for gaming, a version of Stadia that third parties may license. It looks like Stadia technology will live there and in other Google products. “We see clear opportunities to apply this technology to other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play and our augmented reality (AR) efforts – as well as making it available to our industry partners, which which fits the future of the game.” Harrison wrote. “We remain deeply committed to gaming and will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that fuel the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators.”

Harrison noted that many members of the Stadia team will continue their work in other parts of the company. It’s unclear if there will be any layoffs as a result of Stadia’s shutdown. When asked to comment on the possibility of layoffs, Google directed Engadget to Harrison’s blog post.

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