Google Stadia Is About to Succeed
Shutting down the consumer service is the key.
Google announced it will shut down its Stadia consumer cloud gaming service on January 18, 2023. Google will refund all Stadia hardware purchases made in the Google Store and you will not need to return the hardware. It will also refund all games and add-ons purchased made in the Stadia store. It will not refund subscriptions, but it will not charge for subscriptions between now and the end of the service. Google expects to process all refunds by mid-January, around the time the service ends. The Stadia store has been closed, so you can no longer purchase new items. Employees on the consumer Stadia team will be assigned duties elsewhere in the company.
Stadia vice president and GM Phil Harrison said the technology used to create the low latency streaming service will be used elsewhere in Google too, including on YouTube, Google Play and in Augmented Reality products.
Stadia was arguably most successful as a white label service for client companies including AT&T which ran several tests with it. Harrison said it will continue to "make it available to our industry partners." To that point Stadia's non-consumer side will continue to exist as Google Cloud's Immersive Stream for Games.
A lot of folks will take the position that consumers don't want cloud gaming. Justin Robert Young took just that position on Thursday's Daily Tech News Show. But Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now are much better test cases of that than Stadia ever was. Heck even Amazon's Project Luna might be a better example.
Stadia was doomed from the start, mostly because everyone thought Stadia was doomed from the start. To get any kind of service like this rolling, you need adoption. And because everyone immediately believed Google would kill Stadia, and spent lots of time telling each other on Twitter, Reddit and Discord how much they were sure Google would kill Stadia, a lot of people did not try it. That led to not enough people using it, which led to Google having to kill it, leading to everyone saying they told yo so. Congrats everyone. You were right.
Stadia might have been able to overcome all that if Google was better at consumer-facing products, but it's not. Nvidia also faces adoption challenges with GeForce now, but Nvidia is better at handling customers. Not to mention that Stadia's convoluted rules and pricing made it a complex mess. If you got past the cries of doom, the complexity was enough to make you give up on it.
A lot of folks will call Stadia a failure. But I will not. Stadia the consumer service is a failure, yes. But the technology was good and getting better and it has the potential to be one of Google's better cloud offerings.
So far, only companies who run cloud services, like Microsoft and Amazon, or make cloud data center equipment, like Nvidia have run cloud services. We are about to see the next wave of non-cloud service companies getting into it. Netflix is the most prominent, though Netflix is good at streaming things, so they may not want to partner. Although streaming a movie is not as latency-sensitive as streaming a game, so there may be an opening for Google there. And Netflix won’t be the only one. Lots of other companies want try their hand at this space, including game companies themselves. If Google can make the right pitch, it can become a solid infrastructure provider for all kinds of low-latency services, not just gaming.
If you're skeptical, remember; Google Glass is not dead. It just grew up and got a job. Stadia is about to try to do the same.