back to article Google kills off Stadia

Google on Thursday said it will shut down Stadia, its cloud-based game streaming service, because few people use it. "[W]hile 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 …

  1. Piro Silver badge

    Cut short by several months

    http://stadiacountdown.com/

    Had it pegged as being November 2023, January is a bit rough.

    Still, there you go, predictable as death, Google axed a product.

    Nobody should be surprised.

  2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Failed because failure was expected?

    Count me as a person that never looked at it because of Google's reputation. I expected it to have a hostile privacy policy, ads, heavy restrictions on developers, and a brief lifespan.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Failed because failure was expected?

      Google and Phil Harrison. What could have possibly gone right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Solution to a problem nobody had?

      The whole proposition for this never seemed to rise above "Because CLOUD".

      Who were these imaginary gamers that desperately wanted to steam their games off of remote servers. Google made a solid effort at making the tech work, but it always seemed like an academic effort.

      Xbox and Playstation make this work by essentially using tethered downloads. The game pretty much runs locally. So looking at Stadia, you have a tiny player population that is slow and expensive to grow. You have layer on layer of extra complexity that Devs have to wrangle to get a game to play well, and the result of all that hard work is an expensive port of a game that works almost as well as the installed version that will outsell it 10000:1.

      And if it took off, you have to contend with a large and voracious gatekeeper that can take whatever cut of the profits it wants, and leave the studio holding the bag for all the expense and risk.

      The question is why the canceled it, it's why anyone thought they should LAUNCH it.

      1. Martin M

        Re: Solution to a problem nobody had?

        Are you sure about tethered downloads and pretty much running locally on Xbox (and other services)? Xbox for sure allows you to stream games to an Android phone - can’t see how that would work via a tethered download. Even on an Xbox console, startup time for a cloud game is so short it couldn’t be downloading substantial portions for local execution. I’m pretty sure if you’re using Xbox Cloud, it is actually running on the cloud. The amazing thing is that with a decent internet connection you’re hard pressed to notice.

        What is true is that if someone has a console, if they like a game they’ll probably download it after trying it on the cloud, which reduces cloud hardware costs for Microsoft in the short term.

        In the long term (as more people get decent connectivity) pure game streaming makes more sense than music, and we know how that went. Avid gamers have extremely expensive hardware of which at least the GPU portion is going to be idling much of the time, even during some of the evening peaks. Storing millions of copies of 100GB games on high end SSDs is a lot of wasted silicon. Both are obvious targets for pooling centrally for increased utilisation - and it’s an even bigger win with casual gamers. Especially if the pooled hardware can be put to some other easily schedulable/preemptable use (transcoding? ML training?) during the off-peak. Also, many data centres can use electricity with lower carbon intensity than home users, so there’s environmental benefit..

        I suspect many gamers will be increasingly happy to stream if it’s cheaper, greener and more convenient.

        The main problem with Stadia was execution, not concept. And a raft of other Google specific problems you mention.

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          Re: Solution to a problem nobody had?

          If you are the sort of person who will spend over a grand on a GPU, does it seem likely that you will tolerate network latency and video compression? I'm also not sure about the environmental benefits, since now you have to run servers which we all know are so good for the environment. Even if you leave your PC on 24/7 (which people are not obliged to do), how many watts does an idle GPU draw above a machine with integrated graphics?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Solution to a problem nobody had?

          "The main problem with Stadia was execution, not concept."

          Nope, the idea is just fucking stupid.

          The execution is trash like all the other attempts to hype this bollocks, high latency input, blocky/fuzzy messy image.

          Nothing about this is in anyway good for gaming, unless you like playing solitaire.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Failed because failure was expected?

      Don't forget that Internet speeds in the USA are laughable in many parts.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Failed because failure was expected?

        And unreliable. Watch how many streamers get screwed mid-stream because the "internet is not available"

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Failed because failure was expected?

          You know the answer: put another dollar in the meter!

          I mean CEOs got to eat you know (finest international chefs on private planes don't come cheap).

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Failed because failure was expected?

      Aside from brief lifespan it didn't really have any of those problems. It was just a really boring, barebones, gaming platform which didn't have much to recommend it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well.....

    Say what you want, but refunding everything is a brilliant move and how it should be done.

    1. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Well.....

      It is, it's above and beyond really, Google lost tons of money on Stadia by doing that. Wonder if people can export their save game data to use elsewhere?

      1. v13

        Re: Well.....

        You can use Google Takeout to export all your data, for all Google products. You can select just Stadia to get the savegames and the captures. Not all savegames will work though.

        3 years of free gaming wasn't a bad deal. I just wish that the service had survived because it's cool AF.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Well.....

        The refunds are probably peanuts in comparison with development and running costs. Okay, there will probably be a special account that lists the refunds as costs, but it's probably a lot more than anyone would have got from a start up offering the same thing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well.....

      You ARE paying for it in even lower tax paid by the cunts. It will be a tax deductible expense in the region that save them the most currency.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Well.....

        Yeah, when you look at it like that, they're probably making money through the refunds.

    3. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Well.....

      It also indicated just how bad the sales were that they have decided that refunds are an affordable option.

    4. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Well.....

      Most companies can't afford to do that, if their service goes under is because the company does too.

  4. pip25
    Thumb Down

    This may come back to bite Google eventually

    Not the axing of Stadia, specifically, but the general reputation of shutting down services whenever they feel like it. I for one sure as hell won't recommend Google services for customer projects anymore, unless I am absolutely certain they'll be online only for a couple of months, maybe a year at most.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

      I recall MS, when they first ventured into gaming, were generally pretty much dismissed, and spent a long time not making money on that business sector. But, give them their due, they stuck at it and, well, the profits do the talking.

      And Nintendo, the serial every-other-oners. They've stuck to it too, through the lean years, make up for it in the good years. The Wii was, for its day, a total masterpiece, and really showed what you could do with really pretty modest hardware.

      Google just don't seem to stick with it. Stadia will barely make it past 3 years old. Pretty sure that it took a lot longer for MS to get good results from their games division.

      1. GloriousVictoryForThePeople

        Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

        Say what you will about MS, they can and frequently do gnaw at a bone until it works. If anything that has been their strength. Surprisingly for an american megacorp, they play the long game.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

          Except for:

          Phone

          Band

          Barnie

          Foxpro

          Windows on ARM

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

            Yup Microsoft has a string of flops too. And Amazon.

            1. AMBxx Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

              Big difference with Microsoft is that they wait until they've nearly got it right (especially Band and Phone), then they decide to kill.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      The only Google services you should rely on

      Search

      Maps

      Gmail

      Play

      Cloud

      And of course their most important product by far, Adsense. Everything else could be chopped at a moment's notice. Especially anything to do with messaging. They've canceled over a half dozen of them, so don't get too comfy with RCS...Google will probably replace it too and use Apple not supporting it as the excuse.

      1. Mr Anonymous

        Re: The only Google services you should rely on

        .... Mmm .. yep that's it.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: The only Google services you should rely on

        Google Docs seems to be in for the long haul but I don't use it frequently, so I don't know how useful it is as a productivity tool.

        Youtube... well that'll be around forever but you're right that it can't be relied on, with arbitrary, vexatious and even Kafkaesque rules about how you can use it as a creator.

        And the less said about Youtube Music the better. I have free access to it through a family account, and it's worth even less than I pay for it.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: The only Google services you should rely on

          I knew I would leave one out. Yes, Youtube is definitely not going anywhere. Docs is probably safe...but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

      4. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: The only Google services you should rely on

        And, lo and behold, every service you listed is based on serving ads to their products..., erm... customers.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: The only Google services you should rely on

          They make over 100% of their profit from advertising (i.e. they collectively lose money on everything else) so that's not surprising.

      5. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The only Google services you should rely on

        To paraphrase an old XKCD comic, the only core Google product that they really care about is their 8.8.8.8 DNS server.

    3. aerogems Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

      I hope you enjoyed your nap Mr Van Winkle. Let me help catch you up on all the various projects google has started and killed shortly thereafter.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

      Google Graveyard (https://killedbygoogle.com/) is filled with dead Google products.

      Some of them got killed because Google launched something else that superceded them. But all too often Google just shat out some half-assed product and rather than perform the remedial steps they just kill it off.

      Stadia falls in that camp. It was a bad idea from its inception and they never did anything substantive to fix it.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

        Google Graveyard is filled with dead Google products.

        There are two kinds of people: Those who bought into a Google service only to find themselves abandoned by its demise, and those who are yet to experience that.

        Having delivered so many services which have been genuinely useful for those who used them there may be few left in that second group.

        I have been shafted more than once, particularly badly with the demise of Chrome Apps. My willingness to take a risk with Google's offerings diminishes every time, as does Google's reputation.

    5. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

      It's so bad, there's a plethora of websites listing all the crap Google has tried and failed at.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: This may come back to bite Google eventually

      To be honest, for the free stuff, I think that's a bit unfair. Think of it like a series of start-ups. Some succeed but most flop. Google is in the business of making money, so it makes sense to drop things that aren't working-

      And it does stick with some things: YouTube was an absolute money pit for years: bandwidth, development, legal worries, etc. but they stuck with it.

      If you look at the other providers, they're mainly also trying to see running games for people remotely can work despite all the problems with latency. Time will tell whether Google was right to get out when it did.

  5. aerogems Silver badge

    Credit to google

    Giving people refunds for hardware and software purchases is an unexpected move and one I applaud.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Landfill

    To be clear, Google doesn't want the bother or expense of trashing your Stadia e-waste so don't send it back.

    And have they found a good way for (ex)customers to recycle all that obsolete kit? Would Googling for an answer help?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Landfill

        And the other half was a Chromecast which will hopefully keep working. From an ewaste productive Stadia was pretty minimal.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Landfill

          What they should to do is push out an automatic update which turns it into an XBox-compatible controller. Only a small percentage of people will find an open source project and install it, so the majority of controllers will be unnecessary e-waste and they should be taxed for it.

    2. Ashentaine

      Re: Landfill

      Instead of throwing it out they could just box it back up, sit on it for a few years and sell it on eBay to a collector of obscure video game tech. There are people still buying recent flops like the OUYA for a decent amount, after all.

      And there's still very active tinkering communities for mostly forgotten web appliances from the dot-com boom, so I'm sure there are folks who'll want to dig into these after the ability to phone home has been cut off. Especially since the hardware in them is still at a relatively acceptable level.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is almost the soft-core version of when Steam shuts down.

    Though I am not convinced that refunds (or stripping out the DRM) will be an option for that one!

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Boffin

      "This is almost the soft-core version of when Steam shuts down."

      I can't imagine that would happen anytime soon, Steam is a license to print money for Valve.

  8. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I find that Google seems to not just cancel products indiscriminately, but of course that means they launch products prolifically.

    It does end up confusing people. What’s their messaging app called now? Not hangouts (a stupid name if ever I saw one). Is it Duo? Google talk? Allo? Gchat? Maybe hangouts chat?

    The answer is “fuck it, I’ll use teams”

    1. v13

      Just Chat. And Meet. Eeer... Duo. No, no, Meet. But not Meet (original).

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      I tried to use one of those earlier this week. Very frustrating 20 minutes to work out that it was trying to use my speaker as a microphone.

      Yes, we switched to Teams

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Jesus Christ, Teams? I'd rather nail my eyelids to the table.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Yep, Teams still manages to annoy me every time I have to use it.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Me too, but for videoconferencing I find it's still less awful than WebEx or Meet. Amazon Chime is about on par with Teams. Polycom PVS was pretty bad; Bridgit, Skype, and Lync were better than Teams. I've only used Zoom once, so I have no real opinion on it.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            I hate video conferencing and always disable my camera and incoming video feeds. I've had to do a couple of remotce learning sessions on Zoom and the interface and features seemed way ahead of teams. But I'll only run it in the browser from now on.

  9. thejoelr

    self fulfilling

    google cancels the project because it is not profitable, google announces a new project but no one uses it because google cancels a lot of projects so google cancels the project because it is not profitable, google announces a new project but no one uses it because google cancels a lot of projects so google cancels the project because it is not profitable, google announces a new project but no one uses it because google cancels a lot of projects so google cancels the project because it is not profitable, google announces a new project but no one uses it because google cancels a lot of projects so ...

    Something like that. Stadia would have taken time and innovation to succeed, and Google can't see past this quarter's profits.

    1. Steve K

      Re: self fulfilling

      Yep - cancelled projects all the way down.....

      1. Def Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: self fulfilling

        I can't wait for them to announce Google Cancel. A smart, efficient, innovative, cloud based way to cancel projects.

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Considering Microsoft lost $4bn on the original Xbox but yet stuck with it and now has a successful games platform coming from nowhere, its a pity Googles stance is to can things unless they are a roaring success within month of launching.

    That said im surprised Google hasn't used their clout on the phone and browser dominance to push Stadia more over these last few years, like they did to get Chrome the dominant browser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no use pushing a stupid fucking service.

      It was utter shite like the rest of the cloud gaming streaming shit.

      they are all shit,they all suffer from blocky blurry jerky graphics with crap control latency.

      Main issue is at the core it's a fucking stupid way to play games.

      1. TheProf

        I've tried streaming Xbox games and on the whole found them not too bad. Much better than a long wait to download a game and then discover that I didn't like it.

        But yes, not the best way to play fast action games.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Good riddance

        The lag these devices caused was horrific, were terrible with cross platform.

        Multi PS and XB generations, PC, Stadia.

        Only the google thing caused issues.

        PvP was PC own pool but a Stadia made everyone elses life horrible, enemies teleporting, not dieing, it was horrible.

        Yet fine with XB PS4 PS5

  11. localzuk Silver badge

    The Google Way

    Create a service. Market it poorly. Build it without listening to customers. And then wonder why no-one uses it. So shut it down.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Not surprising

    Stadia was like playing a game on a midrange PC, games from a paltry selection of titles, none of which were cheap. Oh and you needed amazing broadband or the experience would be terrible.

    Imagine instead if Google had launched Stadia with a free game that ran with the power of the cloud behind it (e.g. thousands of players, huge maps, destructible physics etc. etc.) and people could pay a sub to skip the wait queues or get other premium features. Google would have made a metric shit ton of money. They could have thrown other games onto the platform over time to build it out the gaming experience.

    But hey ho they didn't do that.

  13. flayman

    I like the Stadia controller

    I received a Chromecast UHD and Stadia controller as a free gift when I took a BT Fibre Broadband package a couple years ago. I was grateful for the Chromecast because it was an upgrade on our existing HD one, which I gave to my adult child for their flat. I didn't think much of the Stadia controller at the time and wasn't at all interested in the game streaming service. I play games on Steam and my kids used PS4. But I've been using the controller lately and I really prefer it over other controllers such as the DS4. First off, it has a USB-C port on it. Those ports are the defacto standard now. They are much more secure and very easy to connect. The only reason I kept micro-USB around was for the DS4 controllers. Secondly, the driver on Windows emulates a recent Xbox controller and the buttons match. That's very handy. I got DS4 to work in Steam, but it's not perfect. Finally, it's a damn good controller and feels comfortable in my hands. So thank you, BT and Google.

  14. Michael Strorm Silver badge

    The worst of both worlds in every respect?

    From what I heard- some time ago now- Stadia was generally abysmal bordering on unusable unless you had a PC with a spec *way* higher than something like that required, Internet bandwidth *way* higher than something like that should have required *and* the runes were favourable.

    Which kind of defeats the purpose of streaming games, which I thought was not needing to have a high-end setup to run it locally?

    And while you might have thought something like that was ideal for renting games- more likely to be the case for more casual gamers who'd be happy with a streaming service- apparently, no, the cost of games on Stadia was comparable to full price on other systems (and often worked out more expensive when the others' games were on sale). Yet you lost access to your (full-price, fully-paid) game when you stopped subscribing to Stadia?

    Who did they expect to be happy with this? No wonder it flopped.

  15. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Google = Microsoft

    Doing things half-assed and them throw them away: Check!

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Coat

    At least Stadia users...can console themselves

    Wait...what? Wasn't the point of Stadia that you didn't need a console?

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