Opinion: The shutdown and failure of Google Stadia


On Sept. 29, vice president and general manager of Google Phil Harrison announced the closure of the Google Stadia game streaming service. The suddenness surprised and dismayed many developers. Despite what some believe, the writing was on the walls for years that Stadia was nothing more than a failed attempt to capitalize on a novel idea without the technology to pull it off. Google Stadia’s shutdown is unsurprising, yet has left many developers with a bitter taste in their mouths.

As previously mentioned, Google Stadia was a game streaming service where the games are run on a powerful computer and played back to the player’s screen over the internet. With this process comes immense amounts of lag as, unlike movies or shows, games are a far more interactive medium, causing games to be unresponsive to an unplayable degree. Of course, this led to a pretty bad reputation among gamers and, though Google claimed that the Stadia had higher specs than the current generation of consoles at the time, the lag drove many users to its competitors instead.

Google seemed to have no regard for the developers who stuck by it to make games for the streaming service either. On Twitter, developers expressed their disappointment and anger toward Google for blindsiding them with the sudden shutdown. Hours of work and thousands of dollars poured into developing or porting games for the Google Stadia, all for it to be put onto a system that would be dead shortly after the new year. Video game publisher Ubisoft, a large supporter of Stadia, has also announced that it’s working on a method to transfer Ubisoft game purchases from Stadia to PC. Unfortunately, other publishers and developers have made no input on whether or not they would be offering save file or purchase transfers to other consoles or PC, meaning many games are still left for dead on the dying system.

That being said, there is a bright side to the shutdown of Google Stadia. Until Jan. 18, Google will be accepting refunds from Stadia owners. Items eligible for refund are Stadia hardware, controllers and games. Pre-ordered games have also been automatically canceled, and customers won’t be charged. Additionally, for those who find the build of the Stadia controller comfortable and don’t wish to sell it, Google has announced that Bluetooth compatibility will be updated to work on the controller through a software update because the controller initially connected over Wi-Fi. Though, even with this perceived generosity, Google isn’t giving up all the money, as Google Stadia Pro subscriptions will not be refunded.

With Google’s size and resources, it’s baffling how the company could create a flop of this magnitude, but with the experimental state of cloud gaming in the modern day, it’s quite easy to see how Stadia crashed and burned. In fact, a majority of gamers strongly disliked Stadia from the start. With its shutdown, the gaming industry is yet again reminded that cloud gaming has a far way to go until it can become mainstream and anything more than an experimental product that may or may not work. Undoubtedly, Google Stadia will go down as yet another blunder of gaming history, much like the ill-fated Sega Saturn, Virtual Boy and Ouya before it.