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Google finally shuts down game streaming service Stadia

The cloud-based gaming dream is finally dead for Google, as it announces a shutdown of all Stadia services and features. The platform will officially retire in January 2023.

Remember when Stadia was touted as the next step for video games?

Google’s experimental tread into gaming showed promise. Using cloud-based streaming, it teased a world where players could jump into Red Dead Redemption 2 on their iPhone or load up Cyberpunk 2077 instantaneously without the need for downloads.

In theory, no hardware or expensive consoles were necessary. Players would simply log into Google’s servers and play titles through a stream.

When Stadia actually launched in 2019, things didn’t exactly go as Google hoped. For one, consumers found the product and platform confusing. There was no hardware or exclusive titles, making it unclear what users were paying for.

Latency issues and input lag also meant that multiplayer titles were impossible to play competitively. Stadia relied entirely on a strong internet connection, which meant most users would be unable to enjoy titles at 4k resolution or control games without delays on screen.

These issues meant Stadia was underwhelming and unconvincing.

It failed to pick up any sizeable market share and has been operating with almost zero players for well over a year – the writing was on the wall.

Google has announced today that it will be ‘winding down’ Stadia over the coming months, with an eventual full shut down in January of next year. Customers who purchased dedicated controllers will be refunded and the store is now inaccessible.

In a statement, Stadia’s vice president and general manager Phil Harrison said that the platform ‘hadn’t gained the traction with users that we expected’, but notes that Google still sees potential in the streaming technology that underpinned the service.

Stadia’s failure is a testament to just how difficult the video game industry is to crack.

Most consumers are already financially and emotionally tied to longstanding brands such as PlayStation and Xbox. It takes huge incentives to persuade players to switch and without a solid foundation of publishers and smooth tech, Stadia never had a hope of making a dent.

Other companies are now incorporating similar ideas into their services too. Microsoft offers a rudimentary streaming system that allows players to stream select titles on tablets and laptops. Sony, meanwhile, has been testing out equivalent features through its ‘PlayStation Now’ subscription, providing easy access streams of PS3 and PS2 games.

While Stadia may have succumbed to an early grave, Google can still be commended for pushing cloud-based gaming into the mainstream.

The technology isn’t quite there yet to offer a seamless streaming experience, but with enough time and investment it could be a standardised feature of the industry.

For now, it’s goodbye to Stadia. Perhaps we’ll see another, similar Google product pop up in the years to come, in a world where everyone is playing the latest GTA on their smartphones.

 

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