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Google are pulling the plug on Stadia in January

Game and hardware purchases will be refunded

Google have announced that they intend to begin "winding down" their game streaming service Stadia. The service launched in 2019 but struggled to find an audience. Google say that they'll refund hardware, game and add-on purchases made through the Google and Stadia stores, and that players will continue to have access to their games library until January 18th.

The tech giant explained the decision in an announcement today, saying that "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."

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The post also says that Google continue to see applications for the technology they've developed for Stadia in other parts of the company, including "YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts", as well as potential to "make it available to our industry partners."

Stadia ran into difficulty almost from its initial announcement, when Google poorly communicated how pricing would work. The service had a paid subscription tier which granted access to some free games, but in general games also had to be purchased individually in order to be played. A free tier with limits on game resolution came the following year, but still it was an odd pitch: a streaming service seemingly for players who had a high-speed broadband connection and who were willing to pay full price for a game, but who didn't already own a console or gaming PC.

In many ways, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. In 2021, Google scaled back their game development efforts, closing two studios and cancelling multiple projects. This meant that Stadia only ever had a handful of exclusive games and was entirely dependent on third-party publishers.

Stadia is far from the first game streaming service to crash and burn with players, or to end up as middleware. The likes of Gaikai and OnLive both ended up being owned by Sony and used to build PlayStation Now. Microsoft's Game Pass subscription also now includes cloud streaming for a large portion of its game library.

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