Google Stadia never tipped off the closure of Cloud Gaming

Google Stadia had big goals for its cloud gaming service but never tipped the rankings. So soon, Google will be shutting it down.

Google’s Stadia cloud gaming assistance will soon be not added, as the company revealed it’s shutting down the service prematurely next year.

Google touted ambitious objectives when Stadia launched but never threatened established players like Sony & Microsoft. And because of Google’s overall lack of commitment to anything but its massive cash cow — digital advertising — Stadia never truly stood a possibility.

When Google first revealed Stadia at GDC 2019, it discussed sky-high aspirations that darted disruptively. Instead, you’d be competent to stream games to your gadgets! You could bounce into a play from a YouTube clip! The company even launched its game studio for exclusive titles headed by industry vet Jade Raymond.

It was comfortable to dream along with Google. Finally, perhaps one of the largest tech companies in the world, one that understands a thing or two about streaming items, would be able to grow where others failed. And when Stadia eventually launched that November, it worked. Sure, things were rather messy, and there were still a lot of missing features, but you could recreate a handful of video games with just an internet link.

Things slowly fell apart from there. While the company added an accessible Stadia tier six months after launch and addressed minor issues like making the Stadia wireless controller operate with computers, there weren’t many individuals playing Stadia games. Google suggested some promotions to try and bring Stadia into more peoples’ hands, but they weren’t enough.

In February 2021, the company announced the beginning of the end. It shut down its in-house development studios and said it would offer Stadia primarily as a platform for other partners to build upon. Now, nearly two years after that news, Stadia will be shut down for good.

In the end, Stadia barely made a mark. Yes, it probably lit a blaze under Amazon, which launched its Luna cloud gaming assistance about a year after Stadia, and Microsoft, which started to roll out Xbox Cloud Gaming in April 2021. But cloud gaming hadn’t turned the gaming industry upside down when it arguably had the prime opportunity. When we all clung at home early in the pandemic and couldn’t find PS5s, Stadia deemed it the ideal solution to let vast numbers of people quickly play games right from whatever screen was in front of them.

It’s clear Stadia never counted all that much to Google, either. Most big-budget video games take years to develop, but the company shuttered its studios a little over a year after Stadia officially launched. So if Google wasn’t willing to invest in its platform, why should other developers?

Developers supporting Stadia were as surprised as everyone else about Thursday’s news. On its Destiny 2 forums, Bungie said that it “just learned” about the shutdown and would send information to affected Stadia players “once we have a plan of action.” Mike Rose of No More Robots tweeted his frustration at Google’s lack of communication, saying that “hours later and you still have no email from Stadia, and no clarity on what’s happening with our games, deals, anything.” Even Stadia employees had little notice.

Cloud gaming isn’t dead. Xbox’s offering is pretty good and getting better. Same with Nvidia’s GeForce Now. PlayStation shuttered PlayStation Now but folded in cloud streaming to its most expensive PlayStation Plus tier. Amazon’s Luna is expanding, too. Logitech just announced a dedicated cloud gaming handheld. But early next year, Stadia, the service that made one of the splashiest entries into cloud gaming, will become just the next big, ambitious project that Google sends to the graveyard.