When Google announced Stadia back in 2019, the question for us was if it will ever be made available on our shores. The answer at the time was no, but perhaps there were a few who held hope that it will change in the future. Now, that answer has been cemented in the annals of history, as the internet search giant is burying its game streaming service, with the process to be completed in January next year.
In a Google blog post, Phil Harrison, VP and GM of Stadia, said that the company has decided to wind down its game streaming project because it “hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected”. For those that did give the service a chance, Harrison says that the company will be refunding hardware, game and DLC purchases. The process is expected to be completed by mid-January, but players can still continue playing until 18 January specifically.
If any of this sounds surprising, it really shouldn’t be. Google, of all companies, should be aware that charging for individual game titles on top of having to pay for the actual subscription service is not a good value proposition for gamers. The convenience of being able to play wherever and whenever hardly makes up for the inconsistent experience due to latency, never mind the total monetary cost.
On a related note, the company once believed that Stadia will eventually have less lag than running games natively on PC or consoles. It’s unclear if this is some fancy corporate speak by the company, or if it really believes its own claims, but it doesn’t matter now either way. If there is some form of tech that can bend the laws of physics that way, chances are that fighting game makers would be the first to discover it and not Google. This is considering the recent realisation across the industry of the importance of rollback netcode.
For what it’s worth, Google claims that all the tech that it has invested into its Stadia venture has not completely gone to waste. The company says that the same tech used can be applied across other parts of its business like YouTube and its AR efforts. At the same time, the company can also make the tech “available to industry partners, which aligns with where we see the future of gaming headed”. But otherwise, the company is putting the last nail on the coffin for the service as we know it, and it will be slowly burying it in its graveyard over the course of the next few months.
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