After functioning for a little over 3 years, Google decided to shut down its Stadia. Given that the company had heavily invested, spending millions of dollars, one cannot help but wonder what went wrong.
Moreover, up until the last few weeks ahead of the shutdown, the tech giant was quite confident in its functionality. So much sure was the company that when a Twitter account speculated that Google Stadia would be finished by the end of summer, Google immediately denied such claims.
Also, there were several plans in the active development process for Google Stadia just before its shutdown. However, all of them came to an instant hiatus.
So, where did the tech giant go wrong? Did it lack the expertise? Or something else entirely?
About Google Stadia
Google Stadia was a cross-platform cloud gaming platform that was launched by Google back in November 2019. While in development, it was known under the codename: Project Stream.
Firmly believing that it can go big in the field, Google debuted Stadia in order to compete with other cloud gaming services launched by its competitors. Notably, these are Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Sony’s PlayStation Plus, and Amazon’s Luna.
However, its competition thrived and is still functioning while Google Stadia collapsed. So, what could be the reason? Was Google Stadia unfriendly or was it difficult to access? Or was it too expensive?
Given that Google is one of the 5 Big Tech in the world, the failure of Stadia is very embarrassing for the company itself. Let’s have a look at what it was about.
As is the case will all cloud gaming platforms, Google Stadia required a consistent internet connection to offer its service. Moreover, Google also established several data centers across the globe in order to ensure reduced latency and provide a seamless gameplay experience.
As such, 10 Mbit/s ensured 720p resolution at 60 FPS while 35 Mbit/s allowed for 4K HDR Video at 60 FPS.
For those who don’t know, cloud gaming has 2 main advantages. Given you have high-speed internet, you can play all modern games on low-end devices and there is no need to download any title. All of the computational power is handheld by the cloud servers. You can see the Hardware Capabilities for Stadia here.
Moreover, Google hyped up its Stadia by promising to introduce novel features such as Stream Connect. It basically allowed a number of players to concurrently play the same game at the same time. Most notably, Google Stadia allowed up to 40 players simultaneously whereas other cloud gaming platforms had a limit of up to 16 players only!
2 Tier Service
In addition, Google also offered two tiers of service: Stadia Base and Stadia Pro. Where the Stadia Base version was free, Stadia Pro required a subscription of only $10 per month.
The free version allowed access to a limited number of free games whereas the premium came with user access to all titles. Also, where the free version allowed up to 1080p of gaming resolution with 60 FPS and stereo audio, the paid version enabled players to game at 4K resolution with 60 FPS and 5.1 surround audio.
In enticing players to buy a Stadia Pro subscription, Google initially allowed 2 months of free premium access. However, it was later reduced to 1 month.
Furthermore, even though Stadia supported all HID-class USB controllers, Google went a step further and introduced its own native controller for Stadia. Although the controller did not boast any groundbreaking features, it did show the company’s commitment to its cloud gaming platform.
Apart from two thumbsticks, a directional pad, four main face buttons, two sets of shoulder buttons, and five additional controller face buttons, the controller also allowed two different ways to connect with Stadia.
You could either plug it into a compatible device with a USB cable or connect it over Wi-Fi to a local network for a direct connection to Google’s Stadia servers. The latter, however, was a better option.
Also, the Stadia controller came in 3 colors: Clearly White, Just Black, and Wasabi.
Lastly, before Google Stadia shut down, the cloud gaming platform hosted 278 titles. Some of the famous games were: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Cyberpunk 2077, Dead by Daylight, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Far Cry 6, FIFA 22, and Hitman 3.
You can find the complete list of games here.
In spite of all the good features mentioned above, Google Stadia could not stand the tests of time.
Critics argue that one of the fundamental reasons behind the collapse was that Google lacked sufficient games for the platform. And this covers both the native titles as well as third-party apps.
Google initially planned to roll out its native Stadia games but abandoned the plan in February 2021. It shut down its Stadia Games and Entertainment division which, consequently, resulted in many notable developers, including Jade Raymond, leaving Google.
Despite the hype created around it by the company, with little to no first-party apps, Google Stadia had nothing flashy to show off. Moreover, by the end of its tenure, it had 278 games only.
So, as dreadfully anticipated by many, Google finally announced the closing of its Stadia cloud gaming service in October 2022. It finally shut down the service on January 18, 2023, at 11:59 PM PST (07:59 UTC).
The Handling of Shutdown
After such a heartrending downfall, Google handheld its closing phase remarkably well. The company promised full refunds to players, allowed “save game transfers”, and provided another way to make sure of its Stadia controller.
Stadia controllers had an in-built functionality for Bluetooth support; however, it was disabled. When Google announced the Stadia shutdown, it released a tool to enable Bluetooth on the controller.
Also, before saying the final goodbye, Google released its first-ever native game as a thank-you to all Stadia players. It was called Worm Game.
So, this is the story of the rise and fall of Google Stadia. While this cloud gaming platform is no longer available, players can still use its controller via Bluetooth support.
Did you happen to play any games on this platform? What was your favorite moment and why? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!