Google on Thursday conceded defeat in its bid to remake the gaming industry around the cloud, as it revealed it would shut down its Stadia game streaming service early next year.
The internet giant touted Stadia as the harbinger of a “cloud gaming” revolution when it announced the service in 2019. But Stadia foundered after most game producers refrained from rendering their best titles available on the platform and users were reluctant to pay a monthly subscription. fees for a streaming service with few offers that they wanted to play.
The games retreat comes as Google is in the midst of a company-wide effort to save money and reduce its focus, closing marginal services and products and cutting staff. Chief Executive Sundar Pichai sought to describe the downturn as a sign of management discipline in the face of economic upheaval.
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, have long been known on Wall Street for investing the search engine’s excess cash in ambitious “moonshots” and other projects with little impact on the core business.
However, Google also has a long history of shutting down ambitious new projects, as well as shutting down promising companies it acquires. This legacy has plagued Stadia from the start, leaving Google struggling to convince both game companies and users that it was in the business for the long haul.
“While Stadia’s approach to consumer game streaming has been built on a solid technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the user buy-in that we expected,” wrote Stadia head Phil Harrison. , in a blog post revealing the decision.
Barely a year after launching Stadia, Google shut down the game studio it formed at the same time to create exclusive games, leaving the platform entirely dependent on support from game developers.
Ubisoft had been the only company to support Stadia with its best games, and its decision this month not to put the latest installment of its hit game Assassin’s Creed on the cloud service was widely seen as a sign that the end of Stadia was near.
Google received high marks from tech analysts for the technology behind Stadia, which was designed to deliver games over the internet with the kind of fidelity and response times previously only available on a console. However, users still depended on the strength of their “last mile” internet connections.
According to Harrison, the technology developed for streaming games will be used in other Google services, while the technology group will also continue to support companies looking to stream games over the internet.
Google said it will refund all purchases of hardware, games and add-on content made through its Stadia store, with the service closing on January 18.