Google has decided to kill Stadia, just like many other products before it. It seems that the company didn’t notify its partners beforehand, making game developers wondering about the future of their projects and deals.

What happened?

  • Stadia will be officially shutting down on January 18, 2023, Google announced in a blog post. Until that date, people will be able to continue playing titles from their library before the cloud gaming service goes offline forever.
  • The official reason for the Stadia shutdown is that it “hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected.”
  • Google will refund all Stadia hardware purchases and all games bought on the platform. The company expects to complete the procedure by mid-January 2023.
  • Technology used for Stadia will be used in other Google products like YouTube and Google Play. The company will also provide third-party developers with access to it.
  • Kotaku also made a list of all games that might be lost forever after the Stadia shutdown. It includes Hello Engineer, GYLT, Outcasters, and PixelJunk Raiders.

What do game developers think of Google killing Stadia?

Many developers found out about the shutdown from the news, as it seems that Google didn’t notify them beforehand. SFB Games’ Tom Vian noted that the studio was about to launch Tangle Tower on Stadia in the next two days. But they won’t be able to do it now.

Despite the sad news, he doesn’t hold a grudge against Google, adding that people at the Stadia team “have all been wonderful the past few months, genuinely the most supportive folks.”

Replying to Vian’s tweet, W.R.K.S Games said they recently signed a publishing deal with Stadia. The studio didn’t know about the closure either, since they had a “super energetic meeting with the team” last week.

Rebecca Heineman, industry veteran and co-founder of Interplay, also said that her studio Olde Sküül should have launched a new Stadia game on November 1. Google eventually reached out to the studio and promised to “lessen the pain.”

No More Robots founder Mike Rose faced similar problems, saying that the publisher had a game coming to Stadia in November. “Who wants to guess that Google will refuse to pay us the money they owe us for it,” he noted.

Necrosoft Games director Brandon Sheffield noted that Stadia had the best revenue share of any platform and “launching Hyper Gunsport there was going to recoup our dev costs.”

Was Google Stadia doomed from the start?

Google launched Stadia in 2019 as a competitor to other cloud gaming platforms like GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and PlayStation Now. The company presented its own controller and offered games on a monthly subscription basis.

But unlike other services, players couldn’t play titles they already own. Instead, they had to purchase most games directly on Stadia, meaning that they could play them only via cloud.

So games that you purchase only remain in the library as long as the subscription is active. In contrast, GeForce Now allows users to launch titles from Steam or other online stores, meaning that they will still have access to them even if they stop paying for a subscription.

Developers also remained skeptical about Stadia, given that Google has killed hundreds of products that were under development or even launched.

Another wake-up call came last year when Google shut down internal Stadia studios. The company struggled to attract and retain players, deciding to not invest in first-party development anymore. It is worth noting that these teams weren’t aware of Google’s plans, with the management praising them just days before the closure.

Despite all the concerns, Google claimed that Stadia was “alive and well,” promising that hundreds of new games were coming to the platform. It also cut revenue share to 15% and introduced new features to attract more developers and players to Stadia.

However, Stadia eventually became another sign at Google’s so-called digital graveyard. Rocksteady senior gameplay programmer Aadit Doshi ironically tweeted that Google Stadia “faced terrible odds in the past 3 years,” including people turning to online gaming amid global pandemic and higher demand for alternatives created by graphic cards and console supply issues.

Rami Ismail, game consultant and one half of indie studio Vlambeer, thinks that Stadia was killed due to “conservative strategies, a lack of trust in devs, and absolute underinvestment.”

Commenting on the Stadia shutdown, journalist Jason Schreier said it is a familiar story: “Veteran video game executives taking cool new tech and treating it like a console launch from 1996.”

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