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Google shuts down ‘Stadia’ online gaming service and will refund the money people spent on it

Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison shows the new Stadia controller as he speaks during the GDC Game Developers Conference on March 19, 2019 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison shows the new Stadia controller as he speaks during the GDC Game Developers Conference on March 19, 2019 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Google will shut down “Stadia”, its online gaming service, after it failed to find enough users.

The company will refund all the money that people spent on the service, including the hardware they bought, it said.

Google fully launched Stadia in 2019, after years of rumours and testing. It was intended as a cloud gaming service, allowing people to play games over the internet rather than a console in their house.

Since then, other companies have launched and focused on similar projects, with both Xbox and PlayStation offering streaming game platforms. Those companies have also been rumoured to be working on dedicated streaming hardware in a similar way to Google, which made Stadia available through the Chromecast.

Google said that the technology underpinning that product had proven itself to be strong. But it failed to be popular with users, and so it had “made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service”.

Existing customers will be able to continue playing games until 18 January, 2023, Google said, at which point the service will be fully shut down.

Players will receive refunds for all hardware purchases made through the Google store, as well as any games and add-on content they had bought on the Stadia store. Those refunds should arrive by mid-January, 2023, Google said.

While the system will shut down, the technology will live on in other products, Google said. “We see clear opportunities to apply this technology across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts — as well as make it available to our industry partners, which aligns with where we see the future of gaming headed,” wrote Phil Harrison, the vice president and general manager for Stadia, in a blog post.

He also said that Google would stay committed to gaming with new investments. And he pointed to the success of the Google Play Store for android, as well as gaming content on YouTube, as proof of Google’s investment in gaming generally.

Mr Harrison did not reveal whether Google would be sacking any of those staff involved in the project. But he said that “many of the Stadia team members will be carrying this work forward in other parts of the company”.