Google Killing Stadia, Issuing Refunds for Hardware and Games

The company will refund all hardware and games purchased through the cloud-gaming service by January 2023.

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A photo of the Stadia Logo on an Android phone
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Stadia is not long for this world. Google’s cloud gaming service will persist for a few more months until it shuts down completely in January. The news came via a blog post by Stadia’s General Manager, Phil Harrison, where he goes into detail on how Google’s phasing out its cloud gaming service. Google will refund all Stadia hardware purchased through the Google Store, including the marquee controller. Any games and add-on content purchased through the service will also get refunded.

That $60 copy of Elder Scrolls Online I purchased a few months ago? That will be refunded by the time the service shuts down. Fortunately, my avatar is synced through Bethesda’s cloud services, so I won’t lose any of my legacy gameplay.

Harrison cites the lack of “traction” for why Google is shuttering its cloud gaming service.

...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 attempts to balance the sour news with the fact that Google is proud of its “underlying technology platform” and hopes it “transcends gaming.” Google has used the Stadia engine to offer neat tricks like the ability to play a game directly from a search query or the Chrome browser without locally downloading it. The company mentions its plans to apply this cloud-based tech to other parts of its business, like YouTube and its Augmented Reality efforts.

“We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators,” writes Harrison.

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Unfortunately, none of this is particularly new news. The writing was on the wall for Stadia earlier this year, as Google had trouble securing partnerships for the service, despite insistence on social media and elsewhere that plans were moving along just fine.

This is still a major bummer for players like myself, who have tried to see the bright side of having cloud-based gaming available on something as tiny as a Chromecast with Google TV dongle. After all, it was a way that I could lay on the couch to play my favorite MMO without having to sit at my desk or download the game to my work machine.

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But Stadia also faces more competition now than when it launched. Nvidia has its own GeForce Now service, while Amazon has Luna for users within its ecosystem. Microsoft also launched its own cloud-gaming service via Xbox Game Pass. It’s managed to secure significant partnerships, like with Epic’s Fortnite, and can be played through the company’s Edge browser, PCs, and even compatible Samsung TVs.

If you are one of the Stadia account holders affected by the shutdown, the good news is that there’s a whole support page to help you transition out. Game servers will remain online until Jan. 18, 2023, so I can still play Elder Scrolls Online for the time being. Unfortunately, not all games support multi-platform save, so you might have trouble moving your game progress on specific titles. Google also says you don’t have to return the hardware to get a refund. Stadia Pro subscriptions will not be refunded.