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What just happened? From the beginning, there were fears that Stadia would end up in Google's infamous graveyard of canceled services. Those fears have now come to pass, but the death of Stadia is far from the end of cloud gaming as competing services continue to expand.
Google has announced it will shut down Stadia for good on January 18, 2023. The company has already halted all Stadia-related transactions on its store and is preparing full refunds for most Stadia purchases.
Anyone who bought Stadia hardware like the controller or a Stadia Chromecast bundle through Google's store should receive a refund by January 18. Unfortunately, those who purchased Stadia products through retail stores like Best Buy are out of luck.
The company will also refund Stadia games and in-game transactions, but not Stadia Pro subscriptions. Current Pro subscribers can keep using premium features free of charge between now and the shutdown date.
Stadia launched in 2019 as a way to play high-end games via the cloud without spending hundreds of dollars on a game console or powerful PC. The service included a free tier, a subscription with a selection of games, and a library of titles to buy outside the subscription.
Unfortunately, Stadia struggled to find a large enough audience interested in its games who didn't prefer to run them locally on console or PC. Google shut down Stadia's first-party game studio in February 2021.
A year later, the company pivoted Stadia toward offering backend cloud services to companies like Peloton, Capcom, and Bungie, while maintaining its customer-facing streaming service. Google will keep using Stadia's underlying technology for that purpose after next January, also utilizing it to support YouTube, Google Play, and augmented reality tech.
As recently as the end of July, Google denied reports it was shutting down Stadia, but it seems a lot can change in just two months.
Meanwhile, other cloud gaming services like Nvidia's GeForce Now and Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming show no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, both services provided a workaround for playing Fortnite on iOS after Apple banned the title from its app store. GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud are also coming to devices like Samsung TVs and Logitech's upcoming G Cloud handheld.