Google Stadia Shutdown

After not gaining the traction it expected, Google announced that their cloud gaming service, Google Stadia, will be shut down in January 2023. They will be offering refunds for customers who purchased any games or hardware during its brief existence.

In an attempt to capitalize on the exorbitant prices associated with next-gen consoles and high-performance gaming setups, Google set its sights on the world of cloud gaming when Stadua launched in November 2019. Cloud gaming refers to playing a game remotely via the cloud where the game is actually run on servers before being streamed onto the player’s devices rather than local storage via the player’s devices themselves.

This week’s news harmed more than just Google’s bottom line; video game developers were already deep into the production process and now face an uncertain future, with some mere weeks away from release on Stadia. Outcasters is a multiplayer title created by the game studio Splash Damage that launched on Stadia in December 2020. The studio revealed that when Stadia is shut down, there will no longer be any way to play their game. In describing their decision to not seek any alternatives for continued gameplay, the studio explained that, “Outcasters was designed and built exclusively for Stadia, with many of its systems heavily reliant on the platform, significantly increasing the complexity of the work required.”

But, the inconvenience can be felt even where the games already exist on other platforms. There are significant player bases that have put time into completing games and working on save files that will no longer be supported. Some companies, notably CD Projekt Red known for the Witcher series & Cyberpunk 2077, have been forced to publish guides detailing the process of transferring save files to PCs. Other companies have spent significant time and resources preparing to port their games onto Stadia and are now forced to grapple with the idea that it can likely be considered a waste of time.

In a somewhat ironic twist, Google announced that their next line of Chromebooks had been built with cloud gaming in mind – in fact, they come with 3 of Stadia’s main competitors pre-installed! This seems to exhibit their ongoing belief that cloud gaming is the way of the future, while simultaneously admitting to the flaws in their plan to have Stadia lead this wave.

Although cloud gaming still holds great potential to impact the future of gaming, it seems that Google will be playing a supporting role in the foreseeable future.